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PEGGY STEWART 
AT HOME 



By GABRIELLB E. JACKSON 



v 



OOP CAUP. LIBRABY, LOS AUGELES 



PEGGY STEWART 



AT HOME 



BY 



GABRIELLE E. JACKSON 

4UTHOR OF "SILVER HEELS," "THREE GRACES' 
SERIES, "CAPT. POLLY" SERIES, ETC. 



GOL 




COPYRIGHT, xgso 

BY 

O. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 



CONTENTS 



CHiPTFE PAOg 

I. SPRINGTIDE ........ 1 

II. THE EMPRESS ........18 

m. "DADDY NEIL" .......35 

iv. IN OCTOBER'S DAYS . ...... 51 

V. POLLY ROWLAND ....... 68 

VI. A FRIENDSHIP BEGINS 84 

VIL PEGGY STEWART: CHATELAINH .... 99 

VIIL A SHOCKING DEMONSTRATION OP INTEMPERANCE . 115 

ix. DUNMOKE'S LAST CHRISTMAS 133 

X. A DOMESTIC EPISODE ...... 148 

XI. PLAYING GOOD SAMARITAN ..... 165 

XII. THE SPICE OF PEPPER AND SALT .... 182 

XIH. THE MASQTJERADERS ' SHOW ..... 197 

XIV. OFF FOR NEW LONDON ...... 212 

XV. REGATTA DAY ........ 227 

XVI. THE RACE ........ 243 

XVII. SHADOWS CAST BEFORE ...... 260 

XVIII. YOU'VE SPOILED THEIR TEA PARTY . . 274 

XIX. BACK AT SEVERNDALE -.... 289 



2130596 



CHAPTER I 
SPRINGTIDE 

" PEGGY, Maggie, Mag, Margaret, Marguerite, 
Muggins. Hum ! Half a dozen of them. Wonder 
if there are any more? Yes, there's Peggoty 
and Peg, to say nothing of Margaretta, Gret- 
chen, Meta, Margarita, Reta, Madge. My good- 
ness! Is there any end to my nicknames! I 
mistrust I'm a very commonplace mortal. I 
wonder if other girls' names can be twisted 
around into as many picture puzzles as mine 
can? What do you think about it *Shashai?" 
and the girl reached up both arms to draw 
down into their embrace the silky head of a 
superb young colt which stood close beside her; 
a creature which would have made any horse- 
lover stop stock-still and exclaim at sight of 
him. He was a magnificent two-year-old Ken- 
tuckian, faultless as to his points, with a head 
to set an artist rhapsodizing and a-tingle to 

*Shashai. Hebrew for noble, pronounced Shash'a-ai. 
1 I 



2 PEGGY STEWAET 

put it upon his canvas. His coat, mane and 
tail were black as midnight and glossy as satin. 
The great, lustrous eyes held a living fire, the 
delicate nostrils were a-quiver every moment, 
the faultlessly curved ears alert as a wild 
creature 's. And he was half wild, for never had 
saddle rested upon his back, girth encircled him 
or bit fretted the sensitive mouth. A halter 
thus far in his career had been his only badge 
of bondage and the girl caressing him had been 
the one to put it upon him. It would have been 
a bad quarter of an hour for any other person 
attempting it. But she was his "familiar," 
though far from being his evil genius. On the 
contrary, she was his presiding spirit of good. 

Just now, as the splendid head nestled con- 
fidingly in her circling arms, she was whispering 
softly into one velvety ear, oh, so velvety ! as it 
rested against her ripe, red lips, so soft, so 
perfect in their molding. The ear moved 
slightly back and forth, speaking its silent 
language. The nostrils emitted the faintest 
bubbling acknowledgment of the whispered 
words. The beautiful eyes were so expressive 
in their intelligent comprehension. 

"Too many cooks spoil the broth, Shashai. 
Too many grooms can spoil a colt. Too many 



SPEINGTIDE 3 

mistresses turn a household topsy-turvy. How 
about too many names, old boy? Can they 
spoil a girl? But maybe I'm spoiled already. 
How about it ? " and a musical laugh floated out 
from between the pretty lips. 

The colt raised his head, whinnied aloud as 
though in denial and stamped one deer-like, un- 
shod fore-hoof as though to emphasize his pro- 
test; then he again slid his head back into the 
arms as if their slender roundness encompassed 
all his little world. 

"You old dear!" exclaimed the girl softly, 
adding: "Eh, but it's a beautiful world! A 
wonderful world," and broke into the lilting 
refrain of "Wonderful world" and sang it 
through in a voice of singularly, haunting 
sweetness. But the words were not those of 
the popular song. They had been written and 
set to its air by Peggy's tutor. 

She seemed to forget everything else, though 
she continued to mechanically run light, sensi- 
tive fingers down the velvety muzzle so close to 
her face, and semi-consciously reach forth the 
other hand to caress the head of a superb wolf- 
hound which, upon the first sweet notes, had 
risen from where she lay not far off to listen, 
thrusting an insinuating nose under her arm. 



4 PEGGY STEWART 

She seemed to float away with her song, off, 
off across the sloping, greening fields to the 
broad, blue reaches of Bound Bay, all a-glitter 
in the morning sunlight. 

She was seated in the crotch of a snake-fence 
running parallel with the road which ended in a 
curve toward the east and vanished in a thin- 
drawn perspective toward the west. There 
was no habitation, or sign of human being near. 
The soft March wind, with its thousand earthy 
odors and promises of a Maryland springtide, 
swept across the bay, stirring her dark hair, 
brushed up from her forehead in a natural, 
wavy pompadour, and secured by a barrette 
and a big bow of dark red ribbon, the long braid 
falling down her back tied by another bow of 
the same color. The forehead was broad and 
exceptionally intellectual. The eyebrows, match- 
ing the dark hair, perfectly penciled. The nose 
straight and clean-cut as a Greek statue's. The 
chin resolute as a boy's. The teeth white and 
faultless. And the eyes? Well, Peggy Stew- 
art's eyes sometimes made people smile, some- 
times almost weep, and invariably brought a 
puzzled frown to their foreheads. They were 
the oddest eyes ever seen. Peggy herself often 
laughed and said: 



SPRINGTIDE 5 

' ' My eyes seem to perplex people worse than 
the elephant perplexed the 'six blind men of 
Hindustan* who went to see him. No two peo- 
ple ever pronounce them the same color, yet 
each individual is perfectly honest in his belief 
that they are black, or dark brown, or dark 
blue, or deep gray, or sea green. Maybe Nature 
designed me for a chameleon but changed her 
mind when she had completed my eyes." 

Peggy Stewart would hardly have been called 
a beautiful girl gauged by conventional stand- 
ards. Her features were not regular enough 
for perfection, the mouth perhaps a trifle too 
large, but she was "mightily pleasin' fer to 
study 'bout," old Mammy insisted when the 
other servants were talking about her baby. 

"Oh, yes," conceded Martha Harrison, the 
only white woman besides Peggy herself upon 
the plantation. "Oh, yes, she's pleasing 
enough, but if her mother had lived she'd never 
in this world a-been allowed to run wild as a 
boy, a-getting tanned as black as a a, darky." 

Martha was a most devoted soul who had 
come from the North with her mistress when 
that lady left her New England home to journey 
to Maryland as Commander Stewart's bride. 
He was only a junior lieutenant then, but that 



6 PEGGY STEWART 

was nearly eighteen years before this story 
opens. She had not seen many colored people 
while living in the Massachusetts town in which 
she had been born and her experience with them 
was limited to the very few who, after the Civil 
War, had drifted into it. Of the true Southern 
negro, especially those of the ante-bellum type, 
she had not the faintest conception. It had all 
been a revelation to her. The devotion of the 
house servants to their "white folks," to whom 
so many had remained faithful even after lib- 
eration, was a never-ending source of wonder 
to the good soul. Nor could she understand 
why those old family retainers stigmatized 
the younger generations as "shiftless, no-ac- 
count, new-issue niggers." That there could 
be marked social distinctions among these 
colored people never occurred to her. 

That generations of them had been care- 
fully trained by master and mistress during the 
days of slavery, and that the younger genera- 
tions had had no training whatever, was quite 
beyond Martha's grasp. Colored people were 
COLORED PEOPLE, and that ended it. 

But as the years passed, Martha learned 
many things. She had her own neatly-ap- 
pointed little dining-room in her own well- 



SPRINGTIDE 7 

ordered little wing of the great, rambling 
colonial house which Peggy Stewart called 
home, a house which could have told a won- 
derful history of one hundred eighty or more 
years. We will tell it later on. We have left 
Peggy too long perched upon her snake-fence 
with Shashai and Tzaritza. 

The lilting song continued to its end and the 
dog and horse stood as though hypnotized by 
the melody and the fingers' magnetic touch. 
Then the song ended as abruptly as it had 
begun and Peggy slid lightly from her perch 
to the ground, raised both arms, stretching 
hands and fingers and inclining her head in a 
pose which would have thrilled a teacher of 
"Esthetic Posing" in some fashionable, faddish 
school, though it was all unstudied upon the 
girl's part. Then she cried in a wonderfully 
modulated voice: 

"Oh, the joy, joy, joy of just being alive on 
such a day as this ! Of being out in this won- 
derful world and free, free, free to go and come 
and do as we want to, Shashai, Tzaritza! To 
feel the wind, to breathe it in, to smell all the 
new growing things, to see that water out 
yonder and the blue overhead. What is it, Dr. 
Llewellyn says: 'To thank the Lord for a life so 



8 

sweet/ We all do, don't we? / can put it 
into words, or sing it, but you two? Yes, you 
can make God understand just as well. Let's 
all thank Him together you as He has taught 
you, and I as He has taught me. Now : 

It was a strange picture. The girl standing 
there in the beautiful early spring world, her 
only companions a thoroughbred, half-wild 
Kentucky colt and a Eussian wolfhound, liter- 
ally worth their weight in gold, absolutely fault- 
less in their beauty, and each with their wonder- 
fully intelligent eyes fixed upon her. At the 
word "Now," the colt raised his perfect head, 
drew in a deep breath and then exhaled it in a 
long, trumpet-like whinny. The dog voiced 
her wonderful bell-like bay; the note of joy 
sounded by her kind when victory is assured. 
The girl raised her head, and parting her lips 
gave voice to a long-drawn note of ecstasy, 
ending in a little staccato trill and the same 
upflinging of the arms. 

It was all a rhapsody of springtide, the 
semi-wild things' expression of intoxicating joy 
at being alive and their absolute mutual har- 
mony. The animals felt it as the girl did, and 
surely God acknowledged the homage. Such 
spontaneous, sincere thanks are rare. 



SPRINGTIDE 9 

"Let's go now." 

The horse's slender flanks quivered; his 
withers twitched with the nervous energy 
awaiting an outlet; the dog stood alert for the 
first motion. 

Resting one hand upon those sensitive with- 
ers the girl gave a quick spring, landing lightly 
as thistledown astride the colt's back, holding 
the halter strap in her firm, brown fingers. 
Her costume was admirably adapted to this 
equestrian if somewhat unusual feat for a 
young lady. It consisted of a dark blue divided 
riding skirt of heavy cloth, and a midshipman's 
jumper, open at the throat, a black regulation 
neckerchief knotted sailor-fashion on her well- 
rounded chest. Anything affording freer ac- 
tion could hardly have been designed for her 
sex. And a bonny thing she looked as she sat 
there, the soft wind toying with the loose hairs 
Which had escaped their bonds, and bringing 
the faintest rose tint into her cheeks. It was 
still too early in the spring for the clear, dark 
skin to have grown "black as a darky's." 

"On to the end of nowhere!" she cried. 
"We'll beat you to the goal, Tzaritza. Go!" 

At the word the colt sprang forward with 
an action so true, so perfect that he and the girl 



10 PEGGY STEWART 

seemed one. The dog gave a low bark like a 
laugh at the challenge and with incredibly long, 
graceful leaps circled around and around the 
pair, now running a little ahead, then executing 
a wide circle, and again darting forward with 
that derisive bark. 

Shashai's speed was not to be scorned his 
ancestors held an international fame for swift- 
ness, endurance and jumping but no horse can 
compete with a wolfhound. 

On, on they sped, the happiest, maddest, mer- 
riest trio imaginable, down the road to the point 
where the perspective seemed to end it but 
where in reality it turned abruptly, leaving the 
one following its course the choice of taking a 
sudden dip down to the water's edge or wheel- 
ing to the right and leaping "brake, bracken 
and scaur." The girl did not tighten her single 
guiding strap, she merely bent forward to speak 
softly into one ear laid back to catch the words : 

"Right turn! " 

Just beyond was a high fence dividing the 
lane where it crossed two estates. It was sur- 
mounted by a stile of four steps. There was 
no pause in the colt's or dog's speed. Tzaritza 
cleared it like a wolfhound. Shashai with his 
rider skimmed over like a bird, landing upon 



SPBINGTIDE 11 

the soft turf beyond with scarcely a sound. 

Oh, the beauty of it all! Then on again 
through a patch of woodland which looked as 
though a huge gossamer veil had been laid over 
it. If ever pastelle colors were displayed to 
perfection Nature here held her exhibition. 
Soft pinks, pale blues, silver grays, the tender- 
est greens with here and there a touch of the 
maple buds' rich mahogany reds, and above and 
about the maddest melody of bird songs from 
a hundred throats. 

As the horse swung along in his perfect gait, 
the great dog making playful leaps and feinted 
snaps at his beautiful muzzle with a dog's 
'derisive smile and sense of humor, and if any 
one doubts that dogs have this quality they 
simply don't know the animal, the girl sang 
at the top of her voice. 

They covered the ground with incredible 
swiftness and presently the lane grew broader, 
giving evidence of more traffic where a wood 
road crossed it at right angles. Just a little 
beyond this point an old gentleman appeared 
an sight. He was walking with his hands 
telasped behind him and his head bent to ex- 
amine every foot of the roadway. Evidently 
he was too absorbed to be aware of the trio 



12 PEGGY STEWART 

bearing down upon him. He wore the clerical 
garb of the Church of England, and his face 
would have attracted attention in any part of 
the world, it was so pure, so refined, so like a 
cameo in its delicacy of outline, and the skin 
held the wonderful softness and clearness we 
'Sometimes see in old age. He must have been 
over seventy. 

Just then he became aware of the colt's light 
hoofbeats and looked up. He was tall and 
slight but very erect, and his face lighted up 
with a smile absolutely illuminating as he 
recognized his approaching friends. 

The girl bent forward to say: 

"One bell, Shashai." Whereupon her mount 
slackened his gait to the gentlest amble, but 
the dog went bounding on to greet the new- 
comer. First she dropped down at his feet, 
burying her nose in her forepaws as though to 
make obeisance, but at his words : 

"Ah, Tzaritza! Good Tzaritza, welcome!" 
she instantly sprang up, rested her forepaws 
upon his shoulders, and looked into his face 
with the most limpid pair of eyes ever seen; 
eyes filled with something deeper than human 
love can ever summon to human eyes, for those 
have human speech to supplement their appeal. 



SPRINGTIDE 13 

"Tzaritza. Dear, faithful Tzaritza," said the 
old man in the tenderest tone as he caressed the 
magnificent, silky head now nestling against 
his face as a child's might have nestled. "Good 
dog. Good dog. But here are Peggy and 
Shashai. My little girl, warm greetings," he 
cried as Shashai came to an instant statue-like 
standstill at Peggy's one word, "Halt!" and 
she slid from his back, braced at "attention" 
and saluted in all gravity, the clergyman re- 
turning the salute with much dignity. Then in 
an instant the martial attitude and air were dis- 
carded and springing forward the girl slipped 
to his side, caught one hand and by a quick, 
graceful motion circled his arm about her waist 
and laid her head upon his shoulder just where 
Tzaritza's had but a moment before rested, her 
face alight with affection as she exclaimed: 

"To meet you 'way, 'way out here, Gom- 
padre!" 

" 'Far from the madding crowd,' Filiola. 
Five miles to the good for these old legs of 
seventy-four summers. They have served me 
well. I have no fault to find with them. They 
are stanch friends and have carried me many 
a mile. But you, my child? You and Tzaritza 
and Shashai? Come hither, my beauty," and 



14 PEGGY STEWAET 

the free hand was extended to the colt which 
instantly advanced for the proffered caress. 

"Ah, thou bonny, bonny creature! Thou 
jewel among thy fellows. Ah, but you possess 
a masculine frailty. Ah, yes, I've detected it. 
Oh, Shashai, Shashai, is thy heart reached only 
through thy stomach?" for now the colt was 
nozzling most insinuatingly at one of the ample 
pockets of the old gentleman's top coat. Never 
had those pockets failed him since the days 
when he had ceased to be nourished by his 
dam's milk, and his faith in their bounty was 
not misplaced, for a slender white hand was in- 
serted to be withdrawn with the lump of sugar 
Shashai had counted upon and held forth upon 
the palm from which the velvety lips took it as 
daintily as a young lady's fingers could have 
taken it. 

Three was the dole evidently for when three 
had been eaten Shashai gravely bowed his head 
three times in acknowledgment of his treat 
and then turned to nibble at the budding trees, 
his benefactor returning to Peggy. 

"So this is heyday and holiday, dear heart, 
is it? Saturday's emancipation from your 
old Dominie Exactus when you may range 
wood and field unmolested, with never a 



SPRINGTIDE 15' 

thought for his domination and tyranny.'* 
"As though you ever dominated or tyrannized 
over me!" protested the girl. ''I'd do any- 
thing, anything for you you know that, don't 
you?" There was deep reproach in her voice. 
Then, it changed suddenly as she asked: 
"But where is Doctor Claudius?" 
"In his stall, eating his fill. I wished to use 
my own legs today," smiled her companion. 
"His are exceptionally good ones, but my own 
will grow stiff if I do not use them more." 

Just then Shashai suddenly raised his head 
and stood with ears alert and nostrils extended. 
Tzaritza rose from the ground where she had 
dropped down after greeting Dr. Llewellyn, 
and stood with ears raised, though neither man 
nor girl yet heard the faintest sound. 

"Some one's coming and coming in a hurry," 
said Peggy quietly, "or ihey wouldn't look like 
that. 11 

As she spoke the dull thud of hoofs pounding 
rapidly upon soft turf was borne to their ears, 
and a moment later a big gray horse ridden by 
a little negro boy, as tattered a specimen of his 
race as one might expect to see, came pounding 
into sight. With some difficulty he brought the 
big horse to a standstill in front of them and 



16 PEGGY STEWART 

grabbing off his ragged cap stammered out hia 
message : 

" Howdy, Massa Dominie. Sarvint, Missy 
Peggy, but Josh done sont me fer ter fin* yo* 
an' bring you back yon' mighty quick, kase 
fcase, de de sor'el mar' done got mos' kilt an* 
lak' 'nough daid right dis minit. He say, 
please ma'am, come quick as Shazee kin fotchi 
yo' fo' de Empress, she mighty bad an'- 

"What has happened to her, Bud?" inter- 
rupted Peggy, turning to spring upon Shashai's 
back, but pausing to learn some particulars. 
The Empress was one of the most valuable 
brood mares upon the estate and her foal, still 
dependent upon her for its nourishment, was 
Peggy's pride and joy. 

"She done got outen de paddock and nigh! 
'bout bus' herself wide open on de flank on dat 
dummed mas-chine what dey trims de hedges 
wid. She bleeged ter bleed ter death, Joshi 
eay." 

Peggy turned white. "Excuse me, please I 
must go as fast as I can. Home, Shashai, four 
bells and a jingle!" she cried and the colt swept 
away like a tornado, Tzaritza in the lead. 

"Golly, but she's one breeze, am' she, sah?" 

"She is a wonderful girl and will make a 



SPRINGTIDE 17 

magnificent woman if not spoiled in the next 
ten years, " replied Dr. Llewellyn, though the 
words were more an oral expression of hia 
own thoughts than a reply to the negro boy. 



CHAPTER II 
THE EMPRESS 

As the half -wild colt swept up to the paddock 
from which the valuable brood mare Empress 
had made her escape, Peggy was met by one of 
the stable hands. 

"Where is she?" she asked, her dark eyes 
full of concern and anxiety. 

"Up yonder in de paster," answered the 
negro, pointing to a green upland. A touch 
with her heel started Shashai. A moment later 
she slipped from her mount to hurry to a little 
group gathered around a dark object lying 
upon the ground. With the pitiful little cry : 

"Oh, Empress! My beauty," Peggy was 
upon her knees beside the splendid animal. 

"Shelby, Shelby, how did it happen? Oh, 
how did it?" she cried as she lifted. the horse's 
head to her lap. The panting creature looked 
at her with great appealing, terror-stricken 
eyes, as though imploring her to save the life- 
spark now flickering so fitfully. 

18 



THE EMPRESS 19 

"God knows, miss," answered the foreman 
of the paddock. "We did not find her until a 
half hour ago. If I'd a-found her sooner it 
would never a-come to this. We ain't never had 
no such accident on the estate since I been on 
it, and I'd give all I'm worth if we could a- just 
have missed this one. Some fool, I can't find 
out who, left them hedge shears a-hanging wide 
open across the gate and the gate unlatched, 
and she must a run foul of 'em, 'cause we found 
'em and all the signs o' what had happened, 
but we couldn't find her for more 'n hour, and 
'then this is what we found. I sent Bud for you 
and Jim for the Vet, but we've all come too 
late." The man spoke low and hurriedly, and 
never for a moment ceased his care for the 
mare. The veterinary who had arrived but a 
few moments before Peggy stood by helpless 
to do more than had already been done by 
Shelby, the veteran horse-trainer who had been 
on the estate for years, and who loved the 
animals as though they were his children. It 
was evident that the Empress' moments were 
numbered. She had severed one of the great 
veins in her flank and had nearly bled to death 
before discovered. Her little foal stood near, 
(surprised at his dam's indifference to his needs, 



20 PEGGY STEWAET 

his little baby face and great round eyes, so like 
his mother's, filled with questioning doubt. As 
Peggy bent over the beautiful dying mare's 
head, tears streaming from her eyes, for she 
had cared for her and loved her since colthood, 
the little foal gave a low nicker and coming up 
behind the girl, thrust his soft muzzle over her 
shoulder and nestled his head against her face, 
'trembling and quivering with a terror he could 
not understand. Peggy raised one arm to 
clasp it around the little creature's warm neck. 
The Empress tried to nicker an answer to her 
baby but the effort cost her last breath and 
heart-throb. It ended in a fluttering sigh and 
her head lay still and at rest upon Peggy's lap. 
The splendid animal, which had so often carried 
Peggy upon her back, the mother of Shashai, 
and many another splendid horse whose fame 
was widely known, lay lifeless. Her little son 
nestled closer to the one he knew and loved best 
as though begging her protection. Peggy held 
him close, sobbing upon his warm neck. 

"You'd better get up, Miss Peggy," said 
Shelby kindly. 

Peggy bent and kissed the great silky head. 
" Good-bye, Empress. I'll care for your baby," 
she said. Shelby lifted the splendid head from 



THE EMPRESS 21 

the girl's lap and helped her to her feet. The 
little colt still huddled close to her. 

"Have you any orders, miss, about her?" 
asked Shelby, nodding toward the dead mare. 

"She shall be buried in the circle and shall 
have a monument. "We owe her much. Her 
foal shall be my charge." 

"And I reckon mine, too. If we raise him 
now it will be a miracle. He's going to miss 
his dam's milk." 

"I think I can manage," answered Peggy. 
"Bud, come with me. I wish you to go down 
to Annapolis with a note to Doctor Feldmeyer. 
He will understand what I wish to do. Ride 
in on Nancy Lee. Come, little one," and with 
the little colt's neck beneath her circling arm 
Peggy walked slowly back to the paddock from 
which barely three hours before the splendid 
mare, now lying lifeless in the pasture, had 
dashed, leaving a trail of her life's blood behind 
her to guide those who came too late. It was 
all the outcome of one person's disregard of 
orders : One of the hands had quit his work to 
gossip, leaving his great hedge shears hanging 
carelessly across the gate, and the gate un- 
fastened. The Empress, gamboling with her 
foal, had rushed upon them, cut herself cruelly, 



22 PEGGY STEWAET 

then maddened by the pain and terrified by the 
flowing blood, had dashed away as only a 
frightened horse can, running until she fell 
from exhaustion. 

Peggy went back-to the inclosure in which 
the Empress, as the most honored of the brood 
mares, had lived with her foal. The little stable, 
a very model of order and appointment, stood 
at one end of it. She opened the gate, intend- 
ing to leave the colt in the inclosure, but he hud- 
dled closer and closer to her side. 

"Why Eoy, baby, what is it?" asked Peggy, 
as she would have spoken to a child. The little 
thing could only press closer and nicker its 
baby nicker. Peggy hesitated a moment, then 
said: "It will never do to leave you now. You 
are half starved, you poor little thing. Eight 
weeks are not many to have lived. Come." 
And as though he understood every word and 
was comforted, the baby horse nickered again 
and walked close by her side. She went straight 
to the house, circling the garden, rich in early 
spring blossoms, to enter a little inclosure 
around which the servants* quarters were built, 
one building, a trifle more pretentious than the 
rest, evidently that of some upper servant. As 
Peggy and her four-footed companion drew 



THE EMPRESS 23 

near, a trim little old colored woman looked out 
of the door. She was immaculate in a black 
and white checked gingham, a large white apron 
and a white turban, suggestive of ante-bellum 
days. Instantly noting signs of distress upon 
her young mistress' face she hurried toward 
her, crying softly in her melodious voice: 

"Baby! Honey! What's de matter? What's 
done happen? What fo' yo' bring Boy up hyer? 
Where de Empress at?" 

"Oh Mammy, Mammy, the Empress is dead. 
She" 

"What dat yo' tellin' me, baby? De Em- 
press daid? Ma Lawd, wha* Massa Neil gwine 
do to we-all when he hyar daft He gwine kill 
somebody dat's sartin suah. What kill her?" 

Peggy told the story briefly, Mammy Lucy, 
who had been mammy to her and her father 
before her, listening attentively, nodding her 
head and clicking her tongue in consternation. 
Such news was overwhelming. 

But Mammy Lucy had not lived on this estate 
for over sixty years without storing up some 
wisdom for emergencies, and before Peggy had 
finished the pitiful tale she was on her way to 
the great kitchen at the opposite end of the in- 
closure where Aunt Cynthia ruled as dusky 



24 PEGGY STEWAET 

goddess of the shining copper kettles and pans 
upon the wall. 

"Sis Cynthy, we-all in trebbilation and we 
gotter holp dis hyer pore chile. She lak fer ter 
breck her heart 'bout de Empress and she sho 
will if dis hyer colt come ter harm. Please, 
ma'am, gimme a basin o* fresh, warm milk. 
Bud he done gone down ter 'Napolis fer a nus- 
sin' bottle, but dat baby yonder gwine faint an* 
die fV dat no 'count nigger git back wid dat 
bottle. I knows him, I does." 

"Howyo* gwine mak' dat colt drink?" asked 
Cynthia skeptically. 

"De Lawd on'y knows, but He gwine show 
me how," was Mammy Lucy's pious answer. 
The next second she cried "Praise Him! / got 
it," and ran into her cabin to return with a 
piece of snowy white flannel. Meanwhile 
Cynthia had warmed the bowlful of milk. 
Hastily catching up a huge oilcloth apron, 
Mammy enveloped herself in it and then hur- 
ried back to Peggy and her charge. 

From that moment Roy's artificial feeding 
began. Peggy raised his head while Mammy 
opened his mouth by inserting a skilful finger 
where later the bit would rest, then slipped in 
the milk-sopped woolen rag. After a few min- 



THE EMPRESS 25 

utes the small beastie which had never known 
fear, understood and sucked away vigorously, 
for he had not fed for hours and the poor inner- 
colt was grumbling sorely at the long fast. The 
bowlful of milk soon disappeared, and he stood 
nozzling at Peggy ready for a frolic, his woes 
forgotten. 

"Now what yo* gwine do wid Mm, honey?" 
asked Mammy. 

"I'd like to put him to sleep on the piazza, 
but I'm afraid I can't," answered Peggy, 
smiling sadly, for the loss of the Empress had 
struck deeply. 

"No, yo' suah cyant do dat," was Mammy's 
reply. "You'll be bleeged fer ter put him 
yonder in de paddock." 

"He will be so lonesome," said Peggy doubt- 
fully. Just then the great wolfhound came 
bounding up. She thrust her nose into her 
mistress' hand and gave a low bark of de- 
light. She was almost as tall as the colt, 
and seemed to understand his needs. She then 
turned to give a greeting lick upon the colt's 
nose. He jerked away, as though resenting 
the lady's familiarity, but nickered softly. He 
had known Tzaritza from the first moment he 
became aware of things terrestrial and they 



26 PEGGY STEWART 

had often gamboled together when the Empress 
was disinclined for a frolic. Peggy's eyes 
brightened. 

"Tzaritza, attention!" 

The splendid honnd raised her head to lool 
into her young mistress* eyes with keen intel- 
ligence. 

"Come," and followed by the hound and coll 
Peggy hurried back to the stables. They hac 
brought the Empress down from the pasture 
and laid her upon the soft turf of the large cir 
cular grass-plot in front of the main building 
The men were now digging her grave. 

"Tzaritza, scent," commanded Peggy, strok 
ing the Empress* neck. 

The hound made long, deep sniffs at the stil 
form. 

"Come.** Peggy then laid her hand upon th< 
little colt's neck. The scent was the same 
Tzaritza understood. 

"Guard," said Peggy. 

"Woof -woof," answered Tzaritza deep dowi 
in her throat. 

Peggy then led the way to the Empress* pad 
dock. Eoy capered through the gate ; Tzaritza 
with her newly-assumed responsibility upoi 
her, entered with dignity. From that honr shi 



THE EMPEESS 27 

scarcely left her charge, lying beside him when 
he rested in the shade of the great beeches, 
nestling close in the little stable at night, fol- 
lowing him wherever he chose to go during his 
liberty hours of the day, for thenceforth he was 
rarely confined to the paddock. 

Before the Empress was laid away Bud re- 
turned with the nursing bottle. The rubber 
nipples were thrust into the Empress* mouth 
and thus getting the mother scent all else was 
very simple. Eoy tugged away at his bottle 
like a well-conducted, well-conditioned baby, 
Tzaritza watching with keen intelligent eyes. 
She soon knew the feeding hours as well as 
Peggy or Mammy, and promptly to the minute 
led her charge to Mammy's door. If Mammy 
happened to be elsewhere she sought Cynthia, 
and so had the interest grown that there was 
not a man, woman or child upon the place who 
would not have dropped anything in order to 
minister to the needs of Tzaritza 's charge. 

And so passed the early springtide, Eoy wax- 
ing fat and strong, Tzaritza never relaxing 
her care, though at first it was a sore trial 
to her to remain behind with her foster-son 
while her beloved mistress galloped away upon 
Shashai. But that word " Guard " was sacred. 



28 PEGGY STEWART 

In the course of a few weeks, however, Eoy was 
well able to follow his half-brother, Shashai, 
and Tzaritza's freedom was restored. The trio 
was rarely separated and to see Peggy in her 
hammock on the lawn, or on the piazza, meant 
to see the colt and Tzaritza also, though Eoy 
was rapidly outgrowing piazzas and lawns, 
and Peggy was beginning to be puzzled as to 
what was to be done with him when he could no 
longer come clattering up the steps and across 
the piazza after his foster-mother. 

With the summer came word that her father 
would come home on a month's leave and Aug- 
ust was longed for with an eagerness he could 
not have dreamed. Everything must be in per- 
fect order to receive him, and Peggy flew from 
house to garden, from garden to stables, from 
stables to paddock keyed to a state of excite- 
ment which infected every member of the 
household. Dr. Llewellyn smiled sympatheti- 
cally. Harrison, the housekeeper, stalked aftei 
her, doing her best to carry out her orders, 
while announcing that: Now, she guessed, there 
would be some hope of making Mr. Neil see 
the folly of letting a girl of Peggy's age run 
wild as a hawk forever and a day. She'd have 
one talk with him he'd do well to take heed 



THE EMPRESS 29 

to or she'd know why. Mammy Lucy said lit- 
tle but watched her young mistress' radiant 
face. It was eight months since Master Neil 
had been home and deep in her tender old heart 
she understood better than any one else what 
his coming meant to Peggy. Harrison might 
have a better idea of what was wise and best 
for her young charge, but Mammy's love taught 
her many things which Harrison could never 
learn. 

Meanwhile Peggy spent the greater part of 
her days down at the paddock, for Shashai must 
be broken to saddle and bridle in order to re- 
ceive his master in proper style. A blanket 
and halter might answer for the mad gallops 
across country which they had hitherto taken, 
but Daddy Neil was coming home for a month 
and the horses must do the place credit. 

With this end in view, Peggy betook herself 
to the paddock one morning before breakfast, 
saddle and bridle borne behind her by Bud. 
Shashai welcomed her with his clear nicker, 
sweeping up to the gate in his long, rocking 
stride so like the Empress*. Tzaritza with her 
foster-son followed in Peggy's wake, Tzaritza 
sniffing inquiringly at the saddle, Roy pranking 
thither and yonder, rich just in the joy of being 



30 PEGGY STEWAET 

alive. Shashai had never quite overcome Ms 
jealousy of his young half-brother, and now 
laid back his ears in reproof of his unseemly 
gambols; Shashai's own babyhood was not far 
enough in the background for him to be tolerant. 

Peggy entered the paddock and Shashai at 
once nozzled her for his morning lumps of 
sugar. For the first time in his memory they 
were not forthcoming, and his great eyes looked 
their wondering reproach. 

"Not yet, Shashai. We must keep them for 
a reward if you behave well." She slipped an 
arm over the beautifully arched neck and laid 
her face against the satiny smoothness. Shashai 
approved the caress but would have approved 
the sugar much more. 

"Give me the saddle, Bud." 

The little negro boy handed her the light rac- 
ing saddle ; a very featherweight of a saddle. 

"Steady, Shashai." 

The colt stood like a statue expecting the girl 
as usual to spring upon his back. Instead she 
placed upon it a stiff, leather affair which puz- 
zled him not a little, and from which dangled 
two curious contrivances. These, however, she 
quickly caught up and fastened over the back 
and their metallic clicking ceased to annoy him. 



THE EMPRESS 31 

The buckling was a little strenuous. Hitherto 
a surcingle had served to hold the blanket upon 
his back, but this contraption had two surcingles 
and a stiff leather strap to boot, which Peggy's 
strong hands pulled tighter than any straps 
had ever before been pulled around him. He 
quivered slightly but stood the test and a lump 
of sugar was held beneath his eager nostrils. 
If that followed it was worth while standing to 
have that ugly, stiff thing adjusted. 

"Now the headstall, Bud. Did you coat the 
bit with the melted sugar as I told you?" 

"Yes'm, missie. It's fair cracklin* wid 
sugar, an* onct he gits a lick ob dat bit he am* 
never gwine let go, yo* hyar me." 

"Now, my bonny one, we'll see," said Peggy, 
as she unstrapped the bit, and the headstall 
without it was no more than the halter to which 
Shashai had been accustomed. Then very 
gently she held the bit toward him. He tried 
to take it as he would have taken the sugar and 
his look of surprise when his lips closed over 
the hard metal thing was amusing. Never- 
theless, it tasted good and he mouthed and 
licked it, gradually getting it well within his 
mouth. At an opportune moment Peggy 
slipped the right buckle into place, quickly fol- 



32 PEGGY STEWAET 

lowing it by the left one. Shashai started, 
"Steady, Shashai. Steady, boy," she said 
gently and the day was won. No shocks, no 
lashings, no harsh words to make the sight of 
that headstall throw him into a panic whenever 
it was produced. Dozens of horses had been so 
educated by Peggy Stewart. Shashai sucked 
at his queer mouthpiece as a child would suck 
a stick of candy, and while he was enjoying its 
sweetness Peggy brought forth lump number 
two. Four was his daily allowance, and as he 
enjoyed number two she let down the stirrups 
which had seemed likely to startle him. 

" Stand outside, Bud, he may be a little 
frightened when the saddle creaks." The boy 
left the paddock. 

"Stand, Shashai," commanded Peggy, rest- 
ing her hand upon the colt's withers. He knew 
perfectly well what to expect, but why that 
strange groaning and creaking? The blanket 
had never done so. The sensitive nerves quiv- 
ered and he sprang forward, but Peggy had 
caught her stirrups and her low voice quieted 
him as she swayed and adapted herself to his 
gait. Around and around the paddock they 
loped in perfect harmony of motion. She did 
not draw upon the bridle rein, merely holding 



THE EMPRESS 33 

it as she had been accustomed to hold her halter 
strap, guiding by her knees. Shashai tossed 
his head partly in nervous irritation at the 
creaking saddle, partly in the joy of motion, 
and joy won the day. Then Peggy began to 
draw slightly upon her reins. The colt shook 
his head impatiently as though asking: "Where- 
for the need! I know exactly where you wish 
to go." 

"Oh, my bonny one, my bonny one, that is 
just it! I know that you know, but someday 
someone else won't know, and if I don't teach 
you now just what the bit means the poor mouth 
may pay the penalty. It may anyway, in spite 
of all I can do, but I'll do my best to make it 
an easy lesson. Oh why, why will people pull 
and tug as they do on a horse's mouth when 
there is nothing in this world so sensitive, or 
that should be so lightly handled. So be pa- 
tient, Shashai. We only use it because we must, 
dear. Now, right, turn!" And with the words 
she pressed her right knee against the colt, at 
the same time drawing gently upon the right 
rein. Shashai turned because he had always 
done so at the words and the pressure, accepting 
the bit's superfluous hint like the gentleman he 
was. 



34 PEGGY STEWART 

"Open the gate, Bud. We'll go for a spin,'* 
ordered Peggy as she swung around the pad- 
dock. 

"Won't yo> jump, missie?" asked Bud 
eagerly. The delight of his life was to see his 
young mistress take a fence. 

"Not this time," answered Peggy over her 
shoulder. Bud opened the gate as they came 
around again and as Peggy cried: "Four bells, 
Shashai," the colt sprang through, Tzaritza 
and Roy joining in with a happy bark and 
neigh. 

All so simply, so easily done by love's gentle 
rule, 



CHAPTER HI 
"DADDY NEIL" 

" STAND there, little girl. Why, why how 
has it come about? When did you do it? I 
went away nine months ago leaving a little girl 
in Mammy Lucy's and Harrison's charge and I 
have returned to find a young lady. Peggy, 
baby, what have you done with my little girl?" 

Commander Stewart stood in the big living- 
room of Severndale, his hand upon Peggy's 
shoulder as he held her at arm's length to look 
at her in puzzled surprise. He had just expe- 
rienced one of those startling revelations which 
often arouse parents to the fact that their chil- 
dren have stolen a march upon them, and sprung 
into very pleasing young men or women while 
they themselves have been in an unobserving 
somnolent state. It is invariably a shock and 
one which few parents escape. 

Peggy laughed, colored a rosy pink but 
obeyed, a little thrill of innocent triumph pass- 
ing over her, for Daddy Neil's eyes held some- 

35 



36 PEGGY STEWAET 

thing more than surprise, and Peggy's feminine 
soul detected the underlying pride and admira- 
tion. 

"By the great god Neptune, you've taken a 
rise out of me this time, child. How old are 
you, anyway?" 

"As though you didn't know perfectly well, 
you tease," laughed Peggy, turning swiftly and 
nestling in his arms. The arms held her closely 
and the sun-tanned cheek rested upon her dark, 
silky hair. The eyes were singularly soft and 
held a suggestion of moisture. It did not seem 
so very long ago to Daddy Neil since Peggy's 
beautiful mother had been in that very room 
with him nestling in his arms in that same con- 
fiding little manner. How like her Peggy had 
grown in looks and a thousand little manner- 
isms. From the moment Peggy had met him at 
the Bound Bay station to this one, he had lived 
in a sort of waking dream, partly in the past, 
partly in the present, and in the strangest pos- 
sible mental confusion. His memory picture 
of Peggy as he had left her in October of the 
previous year was of the little hoyden in short 
skirts, laughing and prancing from morning 
till night, and leading Mammy Lucy a life of it. 

In nine months the little romp had blossomed 



" DADDY NEIL" 37 

into a very charming young girl, dainty and 
sweet as a wild rose in her white duck sailor 
suit, with its dark red collar, her hair braided 
in soft coils about her head and adorned with 
a big red bow. The embryo woman stood be- 
fore him. 

"Yes, how old are you!" he insisted, looking 
at her with mingled, puzzled eyes. 

"Oh, Daddy, you know I was fourteen in 
January," she said half reproachfully. "You 
sent me such beautiful things from Japan." 

4 'Yes, but you might be eighteen now from 
your looks and height. And living here alone 
with the servants. Why why, it's, it's all out 
of order ; you are off your course entirely. You 
must have someone with you, or go somewhere, 
or or well something has got to be done and 
right off, too," and poor perplexed Neil Stewart 
ran his hand through his curly, gray-tinged hair 
in a distracted manner. Peggy looked startled, 
then serious. Such a contingency as this in- 
cumbent upon growing up had never entered 
her head. Must the old order of things which 
she so loved, and all the precious freedom of 
action, give way to something entirely new? 
Harrison had more than once hinted that such 
would be the case when Daddy Neil came home 



38 PEGGY STEWABT 

and found a young lady where he expected to 
find a little girl. 

"Oh, Daddy, please don't talk about that 
now. You've only just got here and I've ten 
thousand things to tell and show you. Let's 
not think of the future just yet. It's such a 
joy to just live now. To have you here and see 
you and hug you, and love you hard,'* cried 
Peggy suiting her actions to her words. Mr. 
Stewart shook his head, but did not beggar his 
response to the caress. It sent a glow all 
through him to feel that this beautiful young 
girl was his daughter, the mistress of the home 
he so loved, but so rarely enjoyed. 

"We'll have a truce for a week, honey, and 
during that time we'll do nothing but enjoy 
each other. Then we'll take our reckoning and 
lay our course by chart, for I'm convinced that 
I, at least, have been running on dead reckoning 
and you well I guess the good Lord's been at 
the helm and taken in hand my job with a good 
deal of credit to Himself and confounded little 
to me. But it's my watch from now on. I 
wish your mother were here, sweetheart. You 
need her now," and Neil Stewart again drew 
the young girl into his strong, circling arm. 
"I'd resign tomorrow if if well, when I re- 



''DADDY NEIL" 39 

sign I want four stripes at least on my sleeve 
to leave you as a memory in the years to come. 
Now show me the ropes. I'm a stranger on 
board my own ship." 

For an hour Peggy did the honors of the 
beautiful home, Jerome, the old butler, who had 
been "Massa Neil's body servant" before he 
entered the Academy at eighteen, where body 
servants had no place, hovering around, solic- 
itous of his master's comfort; Harrison making 
a hundred and one excuses to come into the 
room; Mammy Lucy, with the privileges of an 
old servant making no excuses at all but bob- 
bing in and out whenever she saw fit. 

Luncheon was soon served in the wonderful 
old dining-room, one side of which was entirely 
of glass giving upon a broad piazza overlooking 
Round Bay. From this room the view was 
simply entrancing and Neil Stewart, as he sat 
at the table at which Peggy was presiding with 
such grace and dignity, felt that life was cer- 
tainly worth while when one could look up and 
encounter a pair of such soft brown eyes re- 
garding him with such love and joy, and see 
such ripe, red lips part in such carefree, happy 
smiles. 

"Jerome, don't forget Daddy Neil's sanee. 



40 PEGGY STEWART 

"Yes, missie, lamb. I knows I knows. 
Cynthy, she done got it made to de very top- 
notch pint," answered Jerome, hurrying away 
upon noiseless feet and in all his immaculate 
whiteness from the crown of his white woolly 
head to his duck uniform, for the Severndale 
servants wore the uniforms of the mess-hall 
rather than the usual household livery. Neil 
Stewart could not abide "cit's rigs." More- 
over, in spite of the long absences of the master, 
everything about the place was kept up in ship- 
shape order; Harrison and Mammy Lucy co- 
operated with Jerome in looking well to this. 

"Now, Daddy," cried Peggy happily when 
luncheon ended, "come out to the stables and 
paddock; I've a hundred things to show you." 

"A stable and a paddock for an old salt like 
me," laughed her father. "I wonder if I shall 
know a horse's hock from his withers'? Yet it 
does seem good to see them, and smell the grass 
and woods and know it's all mine and that you 
are mine," he cried, slipping his arm through 
hers and pacing off with her. "Some day," he 
added, "I am coming here to settle down with 
you to enjoy it all, and when I do I mean to let 
four legs carry me whenever there is the least 
excuse for so doing. My own have done enough 



"DADDY NEIL" 41 

pacing of the quarter-deck to have earned that 
indulgence." 

"And won't it be just paradise," cried 
Peggy rapturously. 

They were now nearing the paddock. To one 
side was a long row of little cottages occupied 
by the stable hands' families. Mr. Stewart 
paused and smiled, for out of each popped a 
funny little black woolly head to catch a 
glimpse of "Massa Captain," as all the darkies 
on the place called him. 

"Good Lord, where do they all come from, 
Peggy? Have they all been born since my last 
visit? There were not so many here then." 

"Not quite all," answered Peggy laughing. 
"Most of them were here before that, though 
there are some new arrivals either in the course 
of nature or new help. You see the business is 
growing, Daddy, and I've had to take on new 
hands." 

Neil Stewart started. Was this little person 
who talked in such a matter-of-fact way about 
"taking on new hands" his little Peggy? 

"Yes, yes I dare say," he answered in a 
sort of daze. 

Peggy seemed unaware of anything the least 
unusual and continued: 



42 PEGGY STEWART 

"I want you to see this family. It is Joshua 
Jozadak Jubal Jones'. They might all be of 
an age, but they are not quite. Come here, 
boys, and see Master Captain," called Peggy 
to the three piccaninnies who were peeping 
around the corner of the cottage. Three black, 
grinning little faces, topped by the kinkiest of 
woolly heads, came slowly at her bidding, each 
one glancing half-proudly, yet more or less 
panic-stricken, at the big man in white flannels. 

"Hello, boys. Whose sons are you? Miss 
Peggy tells me you are brothers." 

"Yas, sir. We is. We's Joshua Jozadak 
Jubal Jones's boys. I'se Gus de ol'es. Der's 
nine haid o' us, but we's de oniest boys. De 
yethers ain' no thin' but gurls." 

"And how old are you?" 

"I'se nine I reckons." 

"And what is your name?" 

"My name Gus, sah." 

"That's only half a name. Your whole name 
is really Augustus remember." The "Massa 
Captain's" voice boomed with the sound of the 
sea. Augustus and his brothers were duly im- 
pressed. If Gus really meant Augustus, why 
Augustus he would be henceforth. The Massa 
Captain had said it and what the Massa Cap- 



"DADDY NEIL" 43 

tain said went, especially when he gave a 
bright new dime to enforce the order. 

"And your name?" continued the questioner, 
pointing at number two. 

"I'se jist Jule, sah," was the shy reply. 

"That's a nickname too. I can't have such 
slipshod, no-account names for my hands' chil- 
dren. It isn't dignified. It isn't respectful. 
It's a disgrace to Miss Peggy. Do you hear?" 

"Yas yas sir. We we hears," answered 
the little darkies in chorus, the whites of their 
eyes rolling and their knees fairly smiting to- 
gether. How could they have been guilty of 
thus slighting their adored young mistress? 

"Please, sah, wha's his name ef taint Jule?" 
Augustus plucked up heart of grace to ask. 

"He is Julius, Jul-i-us, do you understand?" 

* ' Yas sir. Yas sir. ' ' Another dime helped 
the memory box. 

"And your name? asked the Massa Captain 
of quaking number three. 

There was a long, significant pause, then con- 
tortions as though number three were suffering 
from a violent attack of colic. At length, after 
two or three futile attempts he blurted out : 

"I'se I'se Billyus, sah!" 

There was a terrific explosion, then Neil 



44 PEGGY STEWART 

Stewart tossed the redoubtable Billyus a quar- 
ter, crying: "You win," and walked away with, 
Peggy, his laughter now and again borne back 
to his beneficiaries. 

Peggy never knew where that month slipped 
to with its long rides on Shashai, Daddy Neil 
riding the Emperor, the magnificent sire of all 
the small fry upon the place, from those who 
had already gone, or were about to be sent out 
into the great world beyond the limits of Sev- 
erndale, to Roy, the latest arrival. Neil Stew- 
art wondered and marveled more and more as 
each day slipped by. 

Then, too, were the delightful paddles far up 
the Severn in Peggy's canoe, exploring unsus- 
pected little creeks, with now and again a bag 
in the wild, lonely reaches of the river, followed 
by a delicious little supper of broiled birds, 
done to a turn by Aunt Cynthia. There were, 
too, moonlight sails in Peggy's little half-rater, 
which she handled with a master hand. As a 
rule, one of the boys accompanied her, for the 
mainsail and centerboard were pretty heavy 
for her to handle unaided, but with Daddy Neil 
on board well, not much was left to be desired. 
During that month Peggy learned "how lightly 
falls the foot of time which only treads on flow- 



"DADDY NEIL" 45 

ers," and was appalled when she realized that 
only five more days remained of her father's 
leave. 

Neil Stewart, upon his part, was sorely per- 
plexed, for it had come to him with an over- 
whelming force that Peggy was almost a young 
lady, and to live much longer as she had been 
living was simply out of the question. Yet how 
solve the problem? He and Dr. Llewellyn 
talked long and earnestly upon the subject when 
Peggy was not near, and fully concurred in 
their view-point; a change must be made, and 
made right speedily. Should Peggy be sent to 
school? If so, where? Much depended upon 
the choice in her case. Her whole life had been 
so entirely unlike the average girl's. Why she 
scarcely knew the meaning of companions of 
her own age of either sex. Neil Stewart actu- 
ally groaned aloud as he thought of this. 

Dr. Llewellyn suggested a companion for the 
young girL 

Mr. Stewart groaned again. Whom should 
he choose? So far as he knew there was not a 
relative, near or remote, to whom he could turn, 
and a hit-or-miss choice among strangers ap- 
palled him. 

"I give you my word, Llewellyn, I'm aground 



46 PEGGY STEWAET 

hard and fast. I can't navigate that little 
cruiser out yonder, ' ' and he nodded toward the 
lawn where Peggy was giving his first lessons 
to Eoy in submitting to a halter. It was a 
pretty picture, too, and one deeply imprinted 
upon Neil Stewart's memory. 

"We will do our best for her and leave the 
rest to the dear Lord," answered the good 
Doctor, his cameo-like face turned toward the 
lawn to watch the girl whom he loved as a 
daughter. "He will show us the way. He has 
never yet failed to.'* 

"Well, in all reverence, I wish He'd show it 
before I leave, for I tell you I don't like the 
idea of going away and leaving that little girl 
utterly unprotected." 

"I should call her very well protected," said 
Dr. Llewellyn mildly. 

"Oh, yes, in a way. You are here off and 
on, and the servants all the time, but look at the 
life she leads, man. Not a girl friend. Noth- 
ing that other girls have. I tell you it's bad 
navigating and she'll run afoul rocks or shoals. 
It isn't natural. For the Lord's sake do some- 
thing. If I could be here a month longer I'd 
start something or burst everything wide open. 
It's simply got to be changed." And Neil Stew- 



"DADDY NEIL" 4? 

art got up from his big East India chair to pace 
impatiently up and down the broad piazza, now 
and again giving an absent-minded kick to a 
hassock, or picking up a sofa pillow to heave it 
upon a settee, as though clearing the deck for 
action. He was deeply perturbed. 

Peggy glanced toward him, and quick to 
notice signs of mental disturbance, left her 
charge to Tzaritza's care and came running 
toward the piazza. As she ran up the four 
steps giving upon the lawn she asked half 
laughingly, half seriously: 

" Heavy weather, Daddy Neil? Barometer 
falling?" 

Neil Stewart paused, looked at her a moment 
and asked abruptly: 

"Peggy, how would you like to go to a board- 
ing school?" 

"To boarding school!" exclaimed Peggy in 
amazement. "Leave Severndale and all this 
and go away to a school 1 ' ' The emphasis upon 
the last word held whole volumes. 

Her father nodded. 

"I think I'd die," she said, dropping upon a 
settee as though the very suggestion had de- 
prived her of strength. 

Her father's forehead puckered into a per- 



48 PEGGY STEWART 

plexed frown. If Peggy were sent to boarding 
school the choice of one would be a nice ques- 
tion. 

"Well, what shall I do with you! " demanded 
the poor man in desperation. 

"Leave me right where I am. Compadre 
will see that I'm not quite an ignoramus, Harri- 
son keeps me decently clad and properly lec- 
tured, and Mammy looks to my feeding when 
I'm well and dosing when I'm not, which, thank 
goodness, isn't often. Why Daddy, I'm so 
happy. So perfectly happy. Please, please 
don't spoil it," and Peggy rose to slip her arm 
within her father's and "pace the deck" as he 
called it. 

"But you haven't a single companion of your 
own age or station," he protested. 

"Do I look the maiden all forlorn as the re- 
sult?" she asked, laughing up at him. 

"You look you look exactly like your 
mother, and to me she was the most beautiful 
woman I have ever seen," and Peggy found 
herself in an embrace which threatened to 
smother her. She blushed with pleasure. To 
be like her mother whom she scarcely remem- 
bered, for eight years had passed since that 
beautiful mother slipped out of her life, was 



"DADDY NEIL" 49 

the highest praise that could have been be- 
stowed upon her. 

"Daddy, will you make a truce with me?" 

Her father stopped to look down at her, 
doubtful of falling into a snare, for he had 
wakened to the fact that his little fourteen-year- 
old daughter had a pretty long head for her 
years. Peggy's white teeth gleamed behind 
her rosy lips and her eyes danced wickedly. 

"What are you hatching for your old Dad's 
undoing, you witch ? ' ' 

"Nothing but a truce. It is almost the first 
of September. Will you give me just one more 
year of this glorious freedom? I shall be nearly 
sixteen then, and then if you still wish it, I'll 
go to a finishing school, or any other old school 
you say to be polished off for society and to 
do the honors of Severndale properly when you 
retire. But, Daddy, please, please, don't send 
me this year. I love it all so dearly and I'll 
be good I truly will." 

At the concluding words the big dark eyes 
filled. Her father bent down to kiss away the 
unshed tears. His own eyes were troublesome. 

"I sign the truce, sweetheart, for one year, 
but I want a detailed report every week, do you 
understand?" 



50 PEGGY STEWAET 

"You shall have it, accurate as a ship's log." 
Five days later he had joined his ship and 
Peggy was once more alone, yet, even then, over 
yonder under the shadow of the dome of the 
chapel at the Naval Academy the future was 
being shaped for the young girl : a future so 
unlike one those who loved her best could pos- 
sibly have foreseen or planned. 



CHAPTER IV 

IN OCTOBER'S DAYS 

SEPTEMBER slipped by, a lonely month. foil 
Peggy as contrasted with August. At first she 
did not fully realize how lonely, but as the days 
went by she missed her father's companionship 
more and more. Formerly, after one of his 
brief visits she had taken up her usual occupa- 
tions, fallen back into the old order of things, 
and been happy in her dumb companions. But 
this time she could not settle down to anything. 
She was restless, and as nearly unhappy as it 
was possible for Peggy Stewart to be. She 
could not understand it. Poor little Peggy, 
how could she analyze it! How reason out that 
her life, dearly as she loved it, was an unnatural 
one for a young girl, and, consequently, an un- 
satisfactory one. 

Dr. Llewellyn was troubled. Tender, wise 
and devoted to the girl, he had long foreseen 
this crisis. It was all very well for the child 
Peggy to run wild over fields and woodland, to 
ride, drive, paddle, sail, fish or do as the whim 

51 



52 PEGGY STEWAET 

of the moment prompted, happy in her horses 
and her dogs. Mammy and Harrison were 
fully capable of looking to her corporal needs 
and he could look to her mental and spiritual 
ones, and did do so. 

Situated as Severndale was, remote from the 
other estates upon the river and never brought 
into social touch with its neighbors, Peggy was 
hardly known. "When Neil Stewart came home 
on leave he was only too glad to get away from 
the social side of his life in the service, and the 
weeks spent with his little girl at Severndale 
had always been the delight of his life. They 
took him into a new world all his own in which 
the small vexations of the outer service world 
were entirely forgotten. 

And how he looked forward to those visits. 
He rarely spoke of them to his friends, men- 
tioned Severndale to very few and hardly a 
dozen knew of Peggy's existence. It was a 
peculiar attitude, but Neil Stewart had never 
been reconciled to the cruel fate which had 
taken from him the beautiful wife he had loved 
so devotedly, and the thought of guests at 
Severndale without her there to entertain them 
as she had been accustomed to, was peculiarly 
abhorent to him. He became almost morbid 



IN OCTOBER'S DAYS 53 

on the subject and did not realize that he was 
growing selfish in his sorrow and making Peggy 
pay the penalty. 

But something in the way of an awakening 
tad come to him during his recent visit, and it 
had shocked him. The child Peggy was a child 
no longer but a very charming young girl on 
the borderland of womanhood. In a year or 
two she would be a young woman and entitled 
to her place in the social world. Poor Neil 
Stewart, more than once upon retiring to his 
bedroom after one of his delightful evenings 
spent with Peggy, desperately ran his fingers 
through his curly hair and asked aloud: "What 
under the sun am I to do? I can't leave that 
child vegetating here any longer, yet who will 
come to live with her or where shall I send 
her?" 

But the question was still unanswered when 
he left Severndale and now Peggy was begin- 
ning to experience something of her father's 
unrest. 

October came. Her work with Dr. Llewellyn 
was resumed. Each Sunday she drove into 
Annapolis to old St. Ann's with Harrison; a 
modest, unobtrusive little figure who attended 
the service and slipped away again almost un- 



54 PEGGY STEWART 

noticed. Indeed, if given a thought at all she 
was vaguely supposed to be some connection of 
the eminently respectable elderly woman ac- 
companying her. Harrison was a rather stately 
imposing body in her black taffeta, or black 
broadcloth, as the season demanded. People 
did not inquire. It was not their affair. The 
rector on one or two occasions had spoken to 
Harrison, but Harrison had been on her dignity. 
She replied politely but did not encourage 
intimacy and, if the truth must be confessed, 
Dr. Smith, rather piqued, decided that he had 
done his duty and would make no further ad- 
vances. This had happened some time before 
the beginning of this story. 

In October, as usual, a number of colts were 
disposed of. Some were sold to people in the 
adjacent towns or counties, others sent to re- 
mote purchasers who had seen them in their 
baby days, followed their up-bringing and train- 
ing, and waited patiently for them to arrive at 
the stipulated age, four years, before becoming 
their property. No colt was ever sold under 
four years of age. This was an inviolable law 
of Severndale, mutually agreed upon by Dr. 
Llewellyn, the business manager, Shelby, the 
foreman, and Peggy, the mistress. 



IN OCTOBEK'S DAYS 55 

"Ain't going to have no half-baked stock sent 
off this place if I have the say-so," had been 
Shelby's fiat. "I've seen too many fine colts 
ruined by being bruck too young and then sold 
to fools who don't seem to sense that a horse's 
backbone's like gristle 'fore he's turned three. 
Then they load him down fit to kill him, or har- 
ness him in a way no horse could stand, or drive 
him off his legs, and, when he's played out, they 
get back at the man who sold him to them, and 
like as not there's a lawsuit afoot that the price 
of the colt four times over couldn't square, to 
say nothing of a reputation no stock-farm can 
afford to have." 

Shelby's sense was certainly very sound 
horse-sense and was rigidly abided by. Con- 
sequently, the colts which left Severndale were 
in the pride and glory of their young horsehood, 
and this year they were a most promising lot. 
There were eleven to be disposed of, and, thanks 
to Peggy's care and training, as fine a bunch of 
horseflesh as could be found in the land. She 
had trained not broken, she could not tolerate 
that word every one and each knew his or her 
name and came at Peggy's call as a child, lov- 
ing and obeying her implicitly. Among them 
were two exceptionally beautiful creatures a 



56 



splendid chestnut with a white star in the mid- 
dle of his forehead, and a young filly, half-sister 
to the chestnut and little Eoy. The chestnut 
was called Silver Star, the filly Columbine, for 
the singular gentleness of her disposition. She 
was a golden bay, slender and lithe as a fawn, 
with great fawn-like brown eyes full of gentle- 
ness and love for all, and for Peggy in partic- 
ular. Sihe had been sold, under the usual con- 
ditions during the previous year and was soon 
to be sent to her new home. 

One morning, the second week in October, 
Peggy opened a letter which held unusual in- 
terest for her. It was from a lady whose home 
was in Wilmot Hall in Annapolis. Wilmot Hall 
was the hotel near the Naval Academy and 
mostly patronized by th officers and their 
families. The letter was from the wife of a 
naval officer who wished either to hire or 
purchase a riding horse for her niece who 
would spend the winter with her. She stated 
very explicitly that the horse must be well 
broken ("Yes, broken !" fairly snorted Peggy. 
11 Broken! I wonder if she would want a liter- 
ally * broken* horse? Why will they never say 
trained?") and gentle, as her niece had ridden 
very little. The letter then went on to ask if 



IN OCTOBER'S DAYS 57 

Mrs. Harold might call some day and hour 
agreed upon. But what amused Peggy most, 
and caused her to laugh aloud as she took a 
spoonful of luscious sliced peaches, was the 
manner in which the letter was addressed. 

Old Jerome who was serving her in the pretty 
delft breakfast-room took an old retainer's 
privilege to ask: 

"What 'musin' you, honey-chile I" 

"Didn't know I was an esquire, did yon, 
Jerome? Well I am, because this letter says 
so. It is addressed to M. C. Stewart, Esq. As 
I am the only M. C. Stewart I must be the es- 
quire to boot. Wonder what the lady will think 
when I sign myself Margaret C. Stewart," and 
Peggy's silvery laugh filled the room. 

"Don' yo' mind what dey calls yo', baby. 
How dey gwine know yo's our young mist 'ess? 
Don* yo' let dat triflin' trebble yo' pretty haid," 
said the faithful old soul, fearful lest his mis- 
tress' pride might be touched, and hastening to 
serve the second course of her breakfast in his 
best "quality style." 

"It doesn't trouble me even a little bit, 
Jerome. It's just funny. I'm going to answer 
that letter right after breakfast, and I wish I 
could see my correspondent's face when she 



58 PEGGY STEWAKT 

finds that her 'esquire* is one of her own sex. 
But I'll never dare let her guess I'm just a 
girl." 

"Jes' a gurl! Jes' a gurl," sputtered Jerome. 
"Kyant yo' just give her a hint dat yo's a yo'ng 
lady and we-all's mistiss?" 

11 'Fraid not, Jerome. She will have to learn 
that when she comes out here to see Silver Star, 
if she really comes. I'd let her have Columbine 
if she were not sold. If that girl, who ever she 
is, could not ride Columbine she would fall out 
of a rocking chair. But Star is a darling and 
never cuts pranks unless Shashai sets him a bad 
example. I fear Shashai will never forget hia 
colt tricks," and Shashai 's mistress wagged 
her pretty head doubtfully. 

"Shas'ee's all right, Miss Peggy. Don* yo' 
go fer ter 'line him. When I sees yo' two a 
kitin* way over de fiel's an' de fences, I says 
ter ma sef, Gawd-a-mighty, Je'ome, yo's got one 
pintedly hansome yo'ng mistess an' she kin ride 
for fair." 

"And that same young mistress is in a fair 
way to be spoiled by your flattery that is pretty 
certain," laughed Peggy, rising from the break- 
fast table and gathering up the pile of letters 
she had been reading. 



IN OCTOBEE'S DAYS 59 

"Huh, Huh. Spiled nothing" protested 
Jerome as she disappeared into the adjoining 
library. 

Seating herself at her very business-like desk 
she wrote in a clear, angular hand : 

Severndale, Round Bay Station. 
October 20, 19 
Mrs. G. F. Harold, 
Wilmot Hall, 

Annapolis, Md. 
Dear Madam: 

Your favor of October eighteenth has been duly received and 
contents noted. In reply would say that I shall be very glad to 
have you call and inspect our stock. 

We have one colt, a four-year old, sired by the Emperor, 
dam the Empress, which I shall be glad to show you. There 
are also others, but I am considering pedigree, disposition and 
gait since you state that you wish a horse for an inexperienced 
rider. 

Would suggest that you run out to Round Bay Station, via 
B. A. Short Line R. R. on Saturday, October the twenty-third, 
1.30 P. M. weather permitting, where I shall meet and convey 
you to Severndale. 

Awaiting your pleasure I am 

Very truly yours, 

Margaret C. Stewart 

How little it often requires to change our 
whole future. Little did Peggy guess as she 
wrote that letter in Dr. Llewellyn's most ap- 
proved form, that it was destined to entirely 
revolutionize her life, introduce her to a hith- 



60 PEGGY STEWART 

erto unknown world and round out her future 
in a manner beyond tke fondest hopes of 
"Daddy Neil." 

This is a big world of little things. 

The letter went upon its way and in the 
course of the morning Peggy almost forgot it. 

At ten o 'clock Dr. Llewellyn came for the reg- 
ular morning lessons. If these were a little un- 
usual for a girl of Peggy's age she was certainly 
none the worse for her very practical knowledge 
of mathematics, her ability to conduct correctly 
the business side of the estate, for upon this, as 
the business manager, good Dr. Llewellyn in- 
sisted, and if that bonny, well-poised, level little 
head sometimes grew weary over investments, 
and interest, and profits and losses, and nestled 
down confidingly upon his shoulder, the sub- 
jects were none the less fully digested, and 
Peggy knew to a dollar, as he did, whence her 
income was derived and to what use it was put. 

Then, too, Dr. Llewellyn in his love for the 
classics made them a fairy world for the girl 
and the commingling of the practical with the 
ideal maintained the balance. 

When one o'clock came dinner was served 
and after that Dr. Llewellyn went his way and 
Peggy hurried off to her beloved horses. 



IN OCTOBER'S DAYS 61 

On this day Columbine was to bid good-bye 
to Severndale. As Peggy entered the big airy 
stable with its row upon row of scrupulously 
neat box stalls, for no other sort was permitted 
in Severndale, Columbine greeted her from one 
of them, as though asking: "Why am I kept 
mewed up in here while all my companions are 
enjoying their daily liberty out yonder?" 

Peggy opened the gate and entered the stall. 
The beautiful creature nestled to her like a 
petted child. 

"Oh, my bonny one, my bonny one, how can 
I send you away?" asked Peggy softly. "Will 
they be good to you out yonder? Will they 
understand what a prize they have got? Wash- 
ington is far away and so big and so fashion- 
able, they tell me. It would break my heart to 
ihave you misused." 

The filly nickered softly. 

"I am going to send a little message with 
you. If they read it they will surely pay heed 
to it." 

She drew from the pocket of her blouse a lit- 
fle package. It was not over an inch wide or 
three long, and was carefully sealed in a piece 
of oil silk. Parting the thick, luxuriant mane, 
she tied her missive securely underneath. When 



62 PEGGY STEWART 

the silky hair fell back in place the little mes- 
sage was completely concealed. Peggy clasped 
her arms about the filly's neck, kissed the soft 
muzzle and said: 

"Good-bye, dear. I'll never forget you and 
I wonder if I shall ever hear of you or see you 
again?" 

Her eyes were full of tears as she left the 
stable. Two hours later Columbine was led 
from her happy home. What later befell her 
we will learn in a future volume of Peggy 
Stewart. Meanwhile we must follow Peggy's 
history. 

On the following Saturday, in the golden glow 
of an October afternoon, with the hills a glory 
of color and the air as soft as wine, Peggy 
drove Comet and Meteor, her splendid carriage 
horses, to the Bound Bay station to meet Mrs. 
Harold and her niece. Tzaritza bounded along 
beside the surrey and old Jess, the coachman of 
fifty years, sat beside his young mistress, al- 
most bursting with pride as he watched the skill 
with which she handled the high-spirited ani- 
mals, for Jess had taught her to drive when she 
was so tiny that he had to hold her upon his lap, 
and keep the little hands within the grasp of his 
big black ones. 



IN OCTOBER'S DAYS 63 

Leaving the horses in his care she stepped 
upon* the little platform which did primitive 
duty as a station, to await the arrival of the 
electric car which could already be heard hum- 
ming far away up the line. 

As her guests stepped from the car she ad- 
vanced to meet them, saying as she extended 
her hand to Mrs. Harold : 

"This is Mrs. Harold, I reckon. I am Peggy 
Stewart. I am glad to meet you." 

There was not the least hesitation or self- 
consciousness and the frank smile which accom- 
panied the words revealed all her pretty, even 
teeth. "I got your message and I am right 
glad to welcome you to Severndale." 

The lady looked a trifle bewildered. She had 
expected to meet the owner of Severndale, or, 
certainly, a mature woman. Her correspondence 
had, it is true, been with a Margaret C. Stewart, 
whom she assumed to be Mr. Stewart's wife or 
some relative. Intuitively Peggy grasped the 
situation, but kept a perfectly sober face. 

"I am very glad to come," said her guest, 
and added: "This is my niece, Polly Rowland. " 

"It's nice to see and know you. I don't see 
many girls of my own age. Will you come to 
the surrey?" and she indicated with a graceful 



64 PEGGY STEWAST 

motion of her hand the carriage in waiting just 
beyond. Mrs. Harold and her niece followed 
their guide. 

Old Jess made a sweeping bow. He must do 
the honors properly. Peggy helped her guests 
into the rear seat, then sprang lightly into the 
front one, drew on a pair of chamois gloves, 
and taking the reins from Jess, gave a low, clear 
whistle. Instantly Tzaritza bounded up from 
beneath some shrubbery where she had lain 
hidden, and cavorting to the horses' heads made 
playful snaps at their muzzles. The next sec- 
ond they had reared upon their hind legs. Mrs. 
Harold gave a little cry of terror and Polly laid 
hold of the side of the surrey. Peggy flashed 
an amused, dazzling smile over her shoulder at 
them as she said reassuringly: 

"Don't be frightened. Down, Tzaritza. 
Steady, my beauties. " 

At her words the beautiful span settled down 
as quiet as lambs and swung into a gait which 
whirled the surrey along the picturesque, wood- 
land road at a rate not to be despised, while 
Peggy drove with the master-hand of expe- 
rience. Indeed she seemed to guide more by 
words than reins, or some perfectly understood 
signal to the splendid creatures which arched 



IN OCTOBER'S DAYS 65 

their necks, or laid back an ear to eatch each 
low spoken word. 

For a time Peggy's guests were too absorbed 
in watching her marvelous skill and almost un- 
canny power over her horses to make any com- 
ment. Then the young girl broke into a per- 
fect ecstacy of delight as she cried: 

"Oh, how do you do it I How beautiful they 
are and what a superb dog. It is a Eussian 
wolfhound, isn't it?" 

"Yes, she is a wolfhound. But I don't quite 
understand. Do what?" and Peggy glanced 
back questioningly. 

"Why drive like that. Make them obey you 
so perfectly." 

"Oh! Why I reckon it is because I have 
driven all my life. I can't remember when I 
haven't, and I love and understand them so 
well. That is all there is to it, I think. They 
will do almost anything for me. You see I was 
here when they were born and they have known 
me from the very first. That makes a lot of 
difference. And I have a great deal to do 
about the paddock. I superintend it. The 
horses are never afraid of me and if they don't 
know the meaning of fear one can do almost 

anything with them. ' ' 
5 



66 PEGGY STEWAET 

How simple it was all said. Mrs. Harold was 
more and more puzzled. The drive was longer 
than she had expected it to be and she had ample 
time to observe her young hostess. 

"And your mother or aunt, whom I infer is 
my correspondent, shall I meet her at Severn- 
dale?" 

"My mother is not living, Mrs. Harold, and 
I have no own aunt ; only an aunt by marriage, 
the widow of Daddy's only brother, but I have 
never seen her." 

"Then I am at a loss to understand with 
whom I have been corresponding about a won- 
derful horse called Silver Star. Someone who 
signs her letters Margaret C. Stewart, and who 
evidently knows what she is writing about, too, 
for she writes to the point and has told me a 
dozen things which no one but an experienced 
business woman would think of telling. Yet 
you tell me there is neither a Mrs. nor Miss 
Stewart at Severndale." 

"I am afraid I am the only Miss Stewart at 
Severndale, though I am never called Miss 
Stewart. I'm just Miss Peggy to the help, and 
Peggy to my friends. But, of course, when I 
write business letters I have to sign my full 
name." 



IN OCTOBER'S DAYS 67 

"You write business letters. Do you mean 
to tell me you wrote those letters?" 

"I'm the only Margaret Stewart," answered 
Peggy, her eyes twinkling. "But here we are 
at Severndale." 

The span made a sharp turn and sped along 
a beautiful avenue over-arched by golden, 
beeches and a moment later swept up to a 
stately old colonial mansion which must have 
looked out over the reaches of Bound Bay for 
many generations. 




IT must be admitted that during the drive 
from the station Peggy's curiosity concerning 
her guests had been fully as lively as theirs 
regarding her. She had never known girl 
friends ; there was but one home within reason- 
able reach of her own which harbored a girl 
near her own age and during the past year even 
this one had been sent off to boarding school, 
her parents realizing that the place was too 
remote to afford her the advantages her age 
demanded. Consequently, Peggy experienced 
a little thrill when she met Polly Howland. 
Here was a girl of her own age, her own station, 
and, if intuition meant anything, a kindred 
spirit. The moment of their introduction had 
been too brief for Peggy to have a good look at 
Polly, but now that they had reached Severn- 
dale she meant to have it, and while Mrs. How- 
land and Polly were exclaiming over the beauty 
of the old place, and the former was wondering 



POLLY HOWLAND 69 

how she could have lived in Annapolis so long 
without even being aware of its existence, 
Peggy, while apparently occupied in caring for 
her guests' welfare, was scrutinizing those 
guests very closely. 

What she saw was a lady something past 
forty, a little above the average height, slight 
and graceful, with masses of dark brown hair 
coiled beneath a very pretty dark blue velvet 
toque, a face almost as fresh and fair as a 
girl's, large, dark brown expressive eyes, which 
held a light that in some mysterious manner 
appealed to Peggy and drew her irresistibly. 
They were smiling eyes with a twinkle sugges- 
tive of a sense of humor, a sympathetic under- 
standing of the view-point of those of fewer 
years, which the mouth beneath corroborated, 
for the lips held a little curve which often be- 
trayed the inward emotions. Her voice was 
soft and sweet and its intonation fell soothingly 
upon Peggy's sensitive ears. Taken altogether, 
her elder guest had already won Peggy's heart, 
though she would have found it hard to explain 
why. 

And Polly Rowland? 

To describe Polly Howland in cold print 
would be impossible, for Polly was something 



70 PEGGY STEWAET 

of a chameleon. What Peggy saw was a young 
girl not quite as tall as herself, but slightly 
heavier and straight and lithe as a willow. Her 
fine head was topped with a great wavy mass of 
the deepest copper-tinted hair, perfectly won- 
derful hair, which glinted and flashed with every 
turn of the girl's head, and rolled back from 
a broad forehead white and clear as milk. The 
eyes beneath the forehead were a perfect cadet 
blue, with long lashes many shades darker 
than the hair. They were big eyes, expressive 
and constantly changing with Polly's moods, 
now flashing, now laughing, again growing 
dark, deep and tender. The nose had an inde- 
pendent little tilt, but the mouth was exquisitely 
faultless and mobile and expressive to a rare 
degree. Polly's eyes and mouth would have at- 
tracted attention anywhere. 

Of course Peggy did not take quite this ana- 
lytical view of either of her guests, though in a 
vague way she felt it all and an odd sense of 
happiness filled her soul which she would have 
found it hard to explain. 

She led the way through the spacious hall and 
dining-room to the broad piazza from which the 
view was simply entrancing, and said : 

"Won't you and Miss Howland be seated, 



POLLY HOWLAND 71 

Mrs. Harold; I am sure you must be hungry 
after your ride through this October air. We 
will have some refreshments and then go out to 
the paddock to see Silver Star." 

Touching a little silver bell, which was 
promptly answered by Jerome, she ordered: 

"Something extra nice for my guests, Je- 
rome, and please send word to Shelby that we 
will be out to the paddock in half an hour." 

"Yes, missie, lamb, I gwine bring yo' a dish 
fitten fo' a queen." 

Mrs. Harold dropped into one of the big East 
India porch chairs, saying : 

"This is one of the most beautiful places I 
have ever seen. Polly, dear, look at the wonder- 
ful reds of those wings contrasted with the 
foliage back of them. Why have we never 
known of Severndale? Have you lived here 
long, Miss Stewart?" 

"Would you mind calling me just Peggy? 
Miss Stewart makes me feel so old and grown- 
up," said Peggy unaffectedly. 

Mrs. Harold smiled approvingly and Polly 
cried : 

"Yes, doesn't it? I hate to be called Miss 
Howland. I'm not, anyway, for I have an 
older sister. Have you, too?" 



72 PEGGY STEWAET 

"No," answered Peggy. "I have no one in 
the world but Daddy Neil, and he is away nearly 
all the time. I wish he were not. I miss him 
terribly. He spent August with me and I have 
never before missed him as I do this time. I 
have always lived here, Mrs. Harold. I was 
born here," she concluded in reply to Mrs. 
Harold's question. 

"But your companions?" Mrs. Harold could 
not refrain from asking. 

Peggy smiled. 

"That was Daddy Neil's deepest concern 
during his last visit. He had not thought much 
about it before, I guess. I dare say you will 
think it odd, but my companions are mostly 
four-footed ones, though I am what shall I 
call it? Guarded? chaperoned? cared for? by 
Harrison, Mammy Lucy and Jerome, with my 
legal guardian, Dr. Llewellyn to keep me with- 
in bounds. I dare say most people would con- 
sider it very unusual, but I am very happy and 
never lonely. Yes, Jerome, set the tray here, 
please," she ended as the butler returned bear- 
ing a large silver tray laden with a beautiful 
silver chocolate service, egg-shell cups straight 
from Japan, a plate of the most delicate, flaky 
biscuits, divided, buttered and steaming, flanked 



POLLY HOWLAND 73 

by another plate piled high with little scalloped- 
edged nut cakes, just fresh from Aunt Cynthia 's 
oven. 

Taking her seat beside the table Peggy 
poured and Jerome served in his most dignified 
manner, while Mrs. Harold marveled more and 
more and Polly thought she had never in all her 
life seen a girl quite like Peggy. 

"It is one of the most beautiful places I have 
ever seen," said Mrs. Harold. 

"I am glad you like it, for I love it. Few 
people know of it. I mean few who come to 
Annapolis. I have lived here so quietly since 
Mamma's death when I was six yea^s old. 
Daddy comes whenever he can, but he has asked 
for sea duty since Mamma left us. He has 
missed her so." 

"In which class did your father graduate, 
Miss Peggy?" 

"In 18 , Mrs. Harold." ' 

"Why then he must have been in the Academy 
when Mr. Harold was there. He graduated 
two years later. I wonder if they knew each 
other. Mr. Harold would have been a youngster, 
and your father a first-classman, and first-class- 
men have been known to notice youngsters." 

Peggy looked puzzled. Although she had 



74 PEGGY STEWAET 

always lived within ten miles of the Academy, 
she had never entered its gates, and knew noth- 
ing of its ways or rules. Polly was wiser, hav- 
ing spent a month with her annt. She laughed 
as she explained : 

"A first-classman is a lordly being who is 
generally at odds with a second-classman, but 
inclined to protect a third-classman, or young- 
ster, simply because the second-classman is 
inclined to make life a burden for him, just as 
he in turn is ready to torment the life out of a 
fourth-classman, or plebe. I am just begin- 
ning to understand it. It seemed perfectly 
ridiculous at first, but I guess some of those 
boys are the better for the running they get. 
IVe only been here since the first of October, 
but I've learned a whole lot in four weeks. 
Maybe you will come over to see us some time 
and you will understand better then." 

"I'd love to, I 'am sure. But may I offer you 
something more? No! Then perhaps we would 
better go down to the paddock." 

They stepped from the piazza and walked 
through the beautifully kept garden. On either 
side late autumn flowers were blooming, the box 
hedges were a deep, waxen green, and gave 
forth a rich, aromatic odor. Polly cried : 



POLLY ROWLAND 75 

"I just can't believe that you you why 
that you are the mistress of all this. I don't 
believe you can be one bit older than I am." 

"I was fourteen last January," answered 
Peggy simply. 

"And I fifteen last August," cried Polly with 
the frankness of her years. 

"Then you are exactly five months older than 
I am, aren't you?" Peggy's smile was won- 
derfully winning. 

"And when I look at all this and hear you 
talk I feel just about five years younger" was 
Polly's frank reply. "Why I've never done a 
single thing in my life." 

"Not one?" asked Mrs. Harold, smiling 
significantly. 

"Oh well, nothing like all this," protested 
Polly. 

They had now reached a large inclosure. At 
the further end were a number of low buildings, 
evidently stables. Nearer at hand, outside the 
inclosure, were larger buildings barns and 
offices. The inclosure was still soft and green 
in its carpeting of turf and patches of clover. 
Eight or ten horses were running at large, free 
and halterless. Further on was another in- 
closure in which several brood mares were 



76 PEGGY STEWART 

grazing quietly or frisking about with their 
colts. Some had come to the high paling to 
gaze inquiringly at the strangers. 

"Oh, Tanta, Tanta, just look at them," cried 
Polly in a rapture. "And which is to be mine?" 

"None of those spindle-legs yonder," was 
Peggy's amused answer. "They will be run- 
ning at large for a long time yet. I don't even 
begin training them until they are a year old 
at least not in anything but loving and obeying 
me. But most of them learn that very quickly. 
You must look in this paddock for Silver Star, 
Miss Polly. Shall I call him?" 

"Will he really come?" asked Polly incred- 
ulously. 

For answer Peggy slipped into the paddock, 
saying as she shot back the bolt : 

"We used to have a much simpler fastening, 
but they learned how to undo it and make their 
escape. For that reason we are obliged to have 
these high fences. They have a strain of hunter 
blood and a six-foot barrier doesn't mean much 
to some of them." 

How bonny the girl looked as she stood there. 
The horses which were in a little group near the 
buildings at the opposite end of the paddock, 
raised their heads inquiringly. The girl gave 



POLLY HOWLAND 77 

a long, clear whistle which was instantly an- 
swered by a chorus of loud neighs, as the group 
broke into a mad gallop and bore down upon 
her. It seemed to Mrs. Harold and Polly as 
though the on-rushing creatures must bear her 
down, but just when the speed was the mad- 
dest, when heads were tossing most wildly, and 
tails and manes waving like banners, Peggy 
cried : 

"Halt! Steady, my beauties!" and as one 
the beautiful animals came to a standstill their 
hoofs stirring up a cloud of dust, so suddenly 
did they brace their forefeet. The next second 
they were crowding around her, nozzling her 
hair, her shoulders, her hands, evidently beg- 
ging in silent eloquence for some expected 
dainty. 

Peggy carried a small linen bag. She opened 
it and instantly the air was filled with the soft, 
bubbling whinny with which a horse begs. 

"Quiet, Meteor. Be patient, Don. Wait, 
Queen. Oh, Shashai, will you never learn 
manners?" she cried as her pet stretched his 
long neck and catching the little bag in his 
teeth snatched it from her hands, then, with all 
the delight of a child who has played a clever 
trick, away he dashed across the paddock. 



78 PEGGY STEWAET 

v 

"Shashai! Shashai, how dare you! Halt!" 

she called after him, but the graceful creature 
had no idea of halting. 

For a moment Peggy looked at her guests 
very much as a baffled schoolmistress might 
look in the event of her pupil's open defiance, 
then cried: 

"This will never, never do. If he disobeys 
me once I shall never be able to do anything 
with him again. Please excuse me a moment. 
I must catch him. ' ' 

"Are you in the habit of chasing whirl- 
winds?" asked Mrs. Harold laughing. 

"You must be able to run faster than mosti 
people," laughed Polly, but even as she spoke 
Peggy cried : 

"Star! Star! Come." And out from the 
group slipped a superb chestnut. He came 
close to the girl, slipping his beautiful head 
across her shoulder and nestling against her 
face with the affection of a child. She clasped 
her arm up around the satiny neck and said 
softly: 

"We must catch Shashai, Star," then turn- 
ing like a flash, she rested one hand lightly upon 
his withers, gave a quick spring and sat astride 
the horse's back. 



POLLY ROWLAND 79 

Polly gave a little cry and clasped her hands, 
her eyes sparkling with delight at this mar- 
velous equestrian feat. Mrs. Harold was too 
amazed to speak. 

* ' After him ! Four bells, Star, ' ' cried Peggy, 
and away rushed the pair as though horse and 
rider were one creature, Peggy's divided cloth 
skirt, which up to that moment Mrs. Harold 
had not noticed, fluttering back to reveal the 
nattiest little patent leather riding boots imag- 
inable. It was one of the prettiest pictures 
Mrs. Harold and Polly had ever beheld. 

But that race was not to end so quickly. 
Shashai boasted the same blood as Silver Star, 
and was every bit as intelligent as his older 
brother. Moreover he had no mind to give up 
his treasure-trove. He knew that little bag and 
its contents too well and was minded to carry 
it to the end of the paddock and there rend 
and tear it, until its contents were spilled and 
he could eat his companions' share as well as 
his own. And that was exactly what Peggy 
did not propose to permit, either for his well- 
being or in justice to the other pets. 

As the extraordinary game of tag ranged 
around the big paddock, Polly fairly danced 
up and down in excitement, crying: 



80 PEGGY STEWAET 

"Tanta, Tanta, I didn't know any one could 
ride like that girl. Why it is more wonderful 
than a circus. And isn't she beautiful? Oh, I 
want to know her better. I am sure she must 
be a perfect dear. Why if I could ever ride 
half as well I'd be the proudest girl in the 
world." 

"And how simply and unostentatiously she 
does everything. Polly, I suspect we shall be 
the richer for several things besides a handsome 
horse when we return to Wilmot." 

Meanwhile Peggy was bearing down upon the 
thief and his plunder, though he darted and 
dodged like a cat, but in an unguarded moment 
he gave Star the advantage and was cornered. 

"Shashai, halt! Steady. Down. My pardon." 

Never was human speech more perfectly 
understood and obeyed. The game was up and 
the superb horse stopped, dropped upon his 
knees and touched the ground with his muzzle, 
the bag still held in his teeth. 

"Up, Shashai," and the horse was again 
upon his feet. 

Peggy reached over and taking hold of his 
flowing forelock led him back to the gate. Noth- 
ing could have been more demure than the 
manner in which he minced along beside her. 



POLLY ROWLAND 81 

At the gate Peggy slipped from Star's back 
as snow slips from a sunny bank, and stretching 
forth her hand said: 

"Give it to me, Shashai." 

The mischievous colt dropped the bag into 
her hand. 

"Good boy," and a caress rewarded the re- 
formed one. 

Then Polly's enthusiasm broke forth. 

How had she ever done itf Who had taught 
ber to ride like that? Could she, Polly, ever 
hope to do so ? 

Peggy laughed gaily, and explained Shelby's 
methods as best she could, giving a little out- 
line of her life on the estate which held a pecul- 
iar interest for Mrs. Harold, who read more 
between the lines than Peggy guessed, and who 
then and there resolved to know something 
more of this unusual girl to whose home they 
had been so curiously led. She had been thrown 
with young people all her life and loved them 
dearly, and here to her experienced eyes was a 
rare specimen of young girlhood and her heart 
warmed to her. 

"I'd give anything to ride as you do," said 
Polly quite in despair of ever doing so. 

"Why I can't remember when I haven't rid- 

6 



'82 PEGGY STEWART 

den. Shelby put me on a horse when Mammy 
Lucy declared I was too tiny to sit in a chair, 
and oh, how I love it and them. It is all so 
easy, so free so I don't quite know how to 
express it. But I must not take any more of 
your time talking about myself. Please excuse 
me for having talked so much. I wanted you 
to see Silver Star's paces but I did not plan to 
show them in just this way. But isn't he a 
dear! I don't know how I can let him go away 
from Severndale, but he as well as the others 
must. We sent Columbine only a few days 
ago. She has the sweetest disposition of any 
horse I have ever trained. It nearly broke my 
heart to send her off. They are all relatives. 
Shashai and Star are half-brothers. Shashai 
is my very own and I shall never sell him. 
Would you like to try Star, Miss Polly? I can 
get you a riding skirt. Shall you ride cross or 
side? He is trained for both." 

"Not today, I think," answered Mrs. Harold 
for Polly. "We must make our arrangements 
for Star and then we will see about riding les- 
sons. I wish you would undertake to teach 
Polly." 

"Oh, would you really let me teach her?" 
cried Peggy enthusiastically. 



POLLY ROWLAND 83 

"I think the obligation would be all on the 
other side," laughed Mrs. Harold. "It would 
be a privilege too great to claim." 

"There would be no obligation whatever. I'd 
just love to," cried Peggy eagerly. "Why it 
would be perfectly lovely to have her come out 
here every day. Please walk back to the house 
and let us talk it over," Peggy's eyes were 
sparkling. 

"Oh, Tanta, may I?" 

"Slowly, Polly. My head is beginning to 
swim with so many ideas crowding into it," but 
Polly Howl and knew from the tone that the day 
was as good as won. 



CHAPTER VI 
A FRIENDSHIP BEGINS 

As they walked back to the house the girls 
talked incessantly, Mrs. Harold listening in- 
tently but saying very little. She was drawing 
her own conclusions, which were usually pretty 
shrewd ones. 

Commander Harold had for the past four 
years been stationed either at the Naval Acad- 
emy, or on sea duty on board the Rhode Island 
when she made her famous cruise around the 
world. Mrs. Harold had remained at Wilmot 
Hall during the winter of 1907 and 1908, Polly's 
sister Constance spending it with her. Later 
Commander Harold had duty at the Academy, 
but recently with his new commission, for he 
had been a commander only a few months, he 
had been given one of the new cruisers and was 
at sea once more. They had no children, their 
only child having died many years before, but 
Mrs. Harold, loving young people as she did, 
was never without them near her. This winter 

84 



A FRIENDSHIP BEGINS 85 

her niece, Polly Howland, would remain with 
her and she was anxious to make the winter a 
happy one for the young girl. This she had a 
rare opportunity of doing, for her pretty sit- 
ting-room in Wilmot Hall was a gathering place 
for the young people of the entire neighborhood 
and the midshipmen in particular, who loved 
it dearly and were devoted to its mistress, lov- 
ing her with the devotion of sons, and invariably 
calling her "the Little Mother,'* and her sitting- 
room " Middies' Haven." And a happier little 
rendezvous it would have been hard to find, for 
Mrs. Harold loved her big foster-sons dearly, 
strove in every way to make the place a home 
for them and to develop all that was best in 
their diverse characters. 

It was to this home that Polly had come to 
pass the winter and now a new phase had de- 
veloped, the outcome of what seemed to be 
chance, but it is to be questioned whether any- 
thing in this great world of ours is the outcome 
of chance. If so wisely ordered in some re- 
spects, why not in all? 

So it is not surprising that Mrs. Harold 
watched and listened with rare sympathy and 
a keen intuition as the girls walked a little 
ahead of her, talking together as freely and 



86 PEGGY STEWART 

frankly as though they had known each other 
for years instead of hours only. 

"Couldn't you come out on the electric car 
every morning ?" Peggy was asking. "If you 
could do that for about two weeks I am sure 
you would be able to ride beautifully at the end 
of them." 

"Not in the morning, I'm afraid. You see 
I am an Annapolis co-ed," Polly answered 
laughing gaily at Peggy's mystified expression. 
"Yes I am, truly. You see I came down here 
to spend the winter with Aunt Janet because 
she is lonely when Uncle Glenn is away. But, 
of course, I can't just sit around and do noth- 
ing, or frolic all the time. Had I remained at 
home I should have been in my last year at high 
school, but Tanta doesn't want me to go to the 
one down here. Oh we've had the funniest dis- 
cussions. First she thought she'd engage a 
governess for me, and we had almost settled 
on that when the funniest little thing changed 
it all. Isn't it queer how just a little thing will 
sometimes turn your plans all around?" 

"What changed yours?" asked Peggy, more 
deeply interested in this new acquaintance and 
the new world she was introducing her into 
than she had ever been in anything in her life. 



A FEIENDSHIP BEGINS 87 

"You'll laugh at me, I dare say, if I tell you, 
but I don't mind. Up at my own home in 
Montgentian, N. J., I had a boy chum. "We 
have known each other since we were little tots 
and always played together. He is two years 
older than I am, but I was only a year behind 
him when he graduated from the high last 
spring. My goodness, how I worked to catch 
up, for I was ashamed to let him be so far 
ahead of me. I couldn't quite catch up, though, 
and he graduated a year ahead of me in spite 
of all I could do. Then he took a competitive 
examination for Annapolis and passed finely, 
entering the Academy last June. I was just 
tickled to death for we are just like brother and 
sister, we have been together so much. Then 
Tanta sent for me and I came back with her on 
September 30. One day we were over in the 
yard and the boys men, I dare say I ought to 
call them, for some of them are tall as bean 
poles, only they have all been Aunt Janet's 
* boys' ever since they entered the Academy 
were teasing me, and telling me I couldn't work 
with Ralph any longer. I got mad then and 
said I guessed I could work with him if I saw 
fit, and I meant to, too. Oh, they laughed and 
jeered at me until I could have slapped every 



88 PEGGY STEWAET 

single one of them, but I then and there made 
np rny mind to follow this year's academic 
course if I died in the attempt, and when we 
went home I talked it all over with Aunt Janet. 
She's such a dear, and always ready to listen to 
anything we young people have to tell her. So 
I really am a co-ed. Yes, I am; I knew you'd 
smile. I have an instructor, a retired captain, 
a friend of Aunt Janet's, who lives at Wilmot, 
and Aunt Janet has rented an extra room next 
mine for a schoolroom, and every morning at 
nine o'clock Captain Pennell and I settle down 
to real hard work. I have 'math" and mechan- 
ical drawing just exactly as Ralph has, and the 
same French, Spanish and English course, but 
what I love best of all is learning all about a 
boat and how to sail her, how to swim, and the 
gym. work. And Captain Pennell is teaching 
me how to fence and to shoot with a rifle and a 
revolver. Oh, it is just heaps and heaps of fun. 
I didn't dream a girl -could learn all those 
things, but Captain Pennell is such a dear and 
so interesting. He seems to have something 
new for each day. But how Aunt Janet's boys 
do run me and ask me when I 'm coming out for 
cutter drill, or field artillery or any old thing 
they know I can't do. But never mind. I 



A FRIENDSHIP BEGINS 89 

know just exactly what all their old orders 
mean, and I am learning all about our splendid 
big ships and the guns and everything just as 
fast as ever I can. But, my goodness, I shall 
talk you to death. Mother says I never know 
when to stop once I get started. I beg your 
pardon," and Polly looked quite abashed as 
they drew near the piazza. 

"Why I think it is all perfectly fascinating. 
How I'd love to do some of those things. I can 
shoot and swim and sail my boat, but I've never 
been in a gymnasium or done any of those in- 
teresting things. I wish Compadre could hear 
all about it. They wanted to send me away to a 
big finishing school this winter but I begged so 
hard for one more year's freedom that Daddy 
Neil consented, but I think he would love to have 
me know about the things you are learning." 

"Oh, Tanta, couldn't we make some sort of 
a bargain? Couldn't Peggy come to us three 
days of the week and work with Captain Pen- 
nell and me, and then I come out three to learn 
to ride?" 

Peggy's eyes shone as she listened. She had 
not realized how hungry she had been for young 
companionship until this sunny-souled young 
girl had dropped into her little world. 



90 PEGGY STEWART 

Mrs. Harold smiled sympathetically upon the 
enthusiastic pair. 

' ' Perhaps we can make a mutually beneficial 
bargain/' she said. "I think I shall accept 
Silver Star upon your recommendation, Miss 
Peggy, and what I have already seen. Then if 
you are willing to undertake it, Polly shall be 
taught to ride by you, and you in turn must 
come to us at Wilmot to join Captain Pennell's 
class of fencing, gym work or whatever else 
seems wise or you wish to. But who must de- 
cide the question, dear!" 

How unconsciously she had dropped into the 
term of endearment with this young girl. It 
was so much a part of her nature to do so. 
Peggy's cheeks became rose-tinted with pleas- 
ure, and her eyes alight with happiness. Her 
smile was radiant as she slipped to Mrs. Har- 
old's side saying: "Oh, if Compadre were only 
here to decide it right away. He is my guardian 
you know, and, of course, I must do as he 
wishes, but I hope oh I hope, he will let me do 
this." 

"And what is it you so wish to do, Filiola?" 
asked a gentle voice within the room. 

Peggy gave a little cry of delight. 

"Oh, Compadre, when did you come? We 



A FRIENDSHIP BEGINS 91 

have just been talking about you," cried Peggy, 
flitting to the side of the tall, handsome old gen- 
tleman and slipping her arm about him as his 
encircled her shoulder, and he looked down 
upon her with a pair of benign dark eyes as he 
answered : 

"I have been luxuriating and feasting for the 
past half hour while waiting for a truant ward. 
Jerome took pity upon me and fed me to keep 
me in a good temper. 

"Oh, Compadre, I want you to know my new 
friend, Mrs. Harold and her niece, Polly How- 
land. We have been having the loveliest visit 
together." 

Dr. Llewellyn advanced to meet the guests, 
one arm still encircling his ward, the other ex- 
tended to take Mrs. Harold's hand as he said: 

"This is a great pleasure, madam. To judge 
by my little girl's face she has found a con- 
genial companion. I am more than delighted 
to meet both aunt and niece." 

"And we are almost the same age! Isn't 
that lovely?" cried Polly. 

Dr. Llewellyn exchanged a significant glance 
with Mrs. Harold, then asked: 

"Have you imparted your peculiar power to 
your niece, Mrs. Harold?" 



92 PEGGY STEWAET 

Mrs. Harold looked mystified. "I am afraid 
I don't quite understand," she smiled. 

1 'Your chaplain at the Academy is an old 
friend of mine. We occasionally hobnob over 
the chess board and a modest glass of wine. I 
hear of things beyond Round Bay and Severn- 
dale ; I am interested in that gathering of young 
men in the Academy and often ask questions. 
The chaplain is deeply concerned for their wel- 
fare and has told me many things, among others 
something of a certain lady to whom they are 
devoted and who has a remarkable influence 
over them. It has interested me, too, for they 
are at the most impressionable, susceptible 
period of their lives and a wise influence can do 
much for them. I am glad to meet 'The Little 
Mother of Middies' Haven.' : 

Dr. Llewellyn's eyes twinkled as he spoke. 
Mrs. Harold blushed like a girl as she asked: 

"Have my sins found me out?" 

"It is a pity we could not find all 'sins* as 
salutary. I may be a retired old clergyman, 
with no greater responsibilities upon my shoul- 
ders than keeping one unruly little girl within 
bounds," he added, giving a tweak to Peggy's 
curls, "and looking after her father's estate 
I tutored him when he was a lad but I hear 



A FRIENDSHIP BEGINS 93 

echoes of the doings of the outer world now 
and again. Yes yes, now and again, and when 
they are cheering echoes I rejoice greatly. But 
let us be seated and hear the wonderful news 
which will cause an explosion presently unless 
the safety-valves are opened," he concluded, 
placing chairs for Mrs. Harold and Polly with 
courtly grace. 

They talked for an hour and at its end Dr. 
Llewellyn and Mrs. Harold had settled upon a 
plan which caused Peggy and Polly to nearly 
prance for joy. 

Mrs. Harold was to talk it over with Captain 
Pennell and 'phone out to Severndale the next 
morning, and if all went well, Peggy would go 
to Annapolis to take up certain branches of the 
work with Polly, and in the intervening morn- 
ings continue her work with Dr. Llewellyn, and 
Polly in return would spend three afternoons 
with her. 

Star was hired then and there for the winter, 
but would live at Severndale until Polly's 
horse-wowaw-ship was a little more to be relied 
upon. 

Before Mrs. Harold and Polly realized where 
the afternoon had gone it was time to return to 
Annapolis. They were driven to the station 



94 PEGGY STEWART 

by Jess, Peggy and Dr. Llewellyn riding beside 
the carriage on Shashai and Dr. Claudius, Dr. 
Llewellyn's big dapple-gray hunter, for the old 
clergyman was an aristocrat to his fingertips 
and lived the life of his Maryland forebears, 
at seventy sitting his horse as he had done in 
early manhood, and even occasionally follow- 
ing the hounds. It was a pretty sight to see 
him and Peggy ride, his great horse making its 
powerful strides, while Shashai flitted along 
like a swallow, full of all manner of little con- 
ceits and pranks though absolutely obedient to 
Peggy's low-spoken words, or knee-pressure, 
for the bridle rein was a quite superfluous 
adjunct to her riding gear, and she would have 
ridden without a saddle but for conventional- 
ities. 

They bade their guests good-bye at the little 
station, and rode slowly back to Severndale in 
the golden glow of the late afternoon, Peggy 
talking incessantly and the good doctor occa- 
sionally asking a question or telling her some- 
thing of the world over in the Academy of 
which she knew so little, but of which fate 
seemed to have ordained she should soon know 
much more. 

There was a quiet little talk up in Middies' 



A FEIENDSHIP BEGINS 95 

Haven that evening, and Captain Pennell 
learned from Mrs. Harold of the little girl np 
at Bound Bay. He was not only willing to ac- 
cept Peggy as a second pupil, but delighted to 
welcome the addition to his " Co-ed Institution" 
as he called it. He had grown very fond of his 
pupil in the brief time she had worked with him, 
but felt sure that a little competition would lend 
zest to the work. He was deeply interested in 
the novel plan and wished his pupil to give her 
old chum and schoolmate a lively contest. 
Moreover, he was a lonely man whom ill-health 
and sorrow had left little to expect from life. 
His wife and only daughter had died in Guam 
soon after the end of the Spanish war, in which 
he had received the wound which had incapac- 
itated him for service and forced him to retire 
in what should have been the prime of life. 
Since that hour he had lived only to kill time ; 
the deadliest fate to which a human being can 
be condemned. Until Polly entered his lonely 
world it would have been hard to picture a 
duller life than he led, but her sunshiny soul 
seemed to have reflected some of its light upon 
him, and he was happier than he had been in 
years. 

It is safe to say that the description of Peggy, 



96 PEGGY STEWART 

her home, her horses and all pertaining to her, 
lost nothing in Polly's telling and it was agreed 
that she should become a special course co-ed 
upon the following Monday. 

And out at Severndale an equally eager, 
enthusiastic little body wag awaiting the ring- 
ing of the telephone bell, and when at nine 
o'clock Sunday morning its cheerful jingling 
summoned Peggy from her breakfast table, she 
was as happy as she well could be and promised 
faithfully to be at Wilmot at nine o'clock the 
following morning. 

And so began a friendship destined to last as 
long as the girls lived, and the glorious autumn 
days were filled with delights for them both. 
To Peggy it was a wonderful world. 

The Tuesday following Polly went to Severn- 
dale and her first riding lesson began, with 
more or less quaking upon her part, it must be 
confessed. She felt tremendously high up in 
the air when she first found herself upon Silver 
Star's back. But he behaved like a gentleman, 
seeming to realize that the usual order of 
things was being reversed and that he was 
teaching instead of being taught. So, in spite 
of Shashai's wicked hints for a prank, he con- 
ducted himself in a manner most exemplary 



A FRIENDSHIP BEGINS 97 

and Polly went back to Wilmot Hall as enthu- 
siastic as she well could be. 

Mrs. Harold had invited Peggy to spend the 
week-end at Wilmot. She wished her to meet 
some of Polly's friends and she, herself, wished 
to know the young girl better. So Dr. Llew- 
ellyn's permission was asked and promptly 
granted, and with his consent won that of Har- 
rison and Mammy Lucy was a mere form. 
Nevertheless, Peggy was too wise to overlook 
asking, for Harrison fancied herself the em- 
bodiment of the law, and Mammy Lucy, in her 
own estimation at least, stood for the dignity 
of the Stewart family. And the preparations 
for the little week-end visit were undertaken 
with a degree of ceremony which might have 
warranted a trip to Europe. Peggy's suitcase 
was packed by Mammy's own hands, Harrison 
hovering near to make sure that nothing was 
overlooked, to Mammy's secret disgust, for she 
felt herself fully capable of attending to it. 

Then came the question of going in, Peggy 
very naturally expecting to go by the electric 
car as she had during the week. But no! Such 
an undignified entrance into Wilmot was not to 
be thought of. She must be driven in by Jess. 

"But Mammy, how ridiculous," protested 
7 



98 PEGGY STEWART 

Peggy. "I can get a boy at the station to carry 
my suitcase to the hotel." 

Mammy looked at her in disdain. 

1 ' Git one ob dem no 'count dirty little nigger 
boys what hangs round dat railway station to 
tote yo' shute case, a-tailin' long behime yo' for 
all de worl lak a tromp. What yo' 'spose yo' 
pa would say to we-all if we let yo' go a-visitin' 
in amy sich style as dat, an' yo' a Stewart an' 
de daughter ob a naval officer who 's gwine visit 
de wife ob one ob his 'Cademy frien's! Chile, 
yo's cl'ar- crazy. Yo' go in de proper style 
lemme tell yo', or yo' aim gwine go 'tall. Yo' 
hear me?" 

And Peggy had to meekly submit, realizing 
that there were some laws which even a Stewart 
might not violate. So on Saturday afternoon 
Comet and Meteor tooled the surrey along by 
beautiful woodland and field, Peggy clad in her 
pretty autumn suit and hat, her suitcase at 
Jess' feet, and herself as properly dignified 
as the occasion demanded, while in her secret 
heart she resolved to enlist Mrs. Harold upon 
her side and in future make her visits with less 
ceremony. 



CHAPTER 
PEGGY STEWART: CHATELAINE 

PEGGY had entered a new world. Plunged 
into one, would perhaps better express it, so 
sudden had been her entrance, and her letters 
to Baddy Neil, now on his way to Guantanamo 
for the fall drills, were full of an enthusiasm 
which almost bewildered him and started a new 
train of thought. 

As he knew most members of the personnel 
of the ships comprising the Atlantic fleet, he, of 
course, knew Commander Harold, though it had 
never occurred to him to associate him with 
Annapolis, or to make any inquiry regarding 
his home or his connections. Like many an- 
other, he was merely a fellow-officer. He was 
not a classmate, so his interest was less keen 
than it would have been had such been the case. 
Moreover, Harold was in a different division 
of the fleet and they very rarely met. But now 
the whole situation was changed by Peggy's 
letter. He would hunt up Mr. Harold at the 

99 



100 PEGGY STEWAET 

first opportunity and with this common interest 
to bind them, much pleasure was in store. 

True to her word, Peggy sent her letter off 
every Sunday afternoon a conscientious re- 
port of the week's happenings. Her "log," 
she called it, and it was the comfort of Daddy 
Neil's life. 

Meanwhile, she spent about half of her time 
with Mrs. Harold and Polly, and in a very short 
time became as good a chum of Mrs. Harold's 
"boys," the midshipmen, as was Polly. There 
was always something doing over at the Acad- 
emy, and as Mrs. Harold's guest, Peggy was 
naturally included. At present football prac- 
tice was absorbing the interest of the Academic 
world and its friends, for in a few weeks the 
big Army-Navy game would take place up in 
Philadelphia and Mrs. Harold had already in- 
vited Peggy to go to it with her party. Peggy 
had never even seen a practice game until taken 
over to the Naval Academy field with her 
friends, where the boys teased her unmercifully 
because she asked why they didn't "have a 
decently shaped round ball instead of a leather 
watermelon which wouldn't do a thing but flop 
every which way, and call it tussle-ball instead 
of football?" 



PEGGY STEWART : CHATELAINE 101 

There was a little circle which gathered about 
Mrs. Harold, and which was always alluded to 
as "her big children." These were men from 
the different classes in the Academy, for there 
were no "class rates " in "Middies' Haven," as 
they called her sitting-room. Peggy met them 
all, though, naturally, there were some she liked 
better than others. Among the upper-classmen 
who would graduate in the spring were three 
who were at Middies' Haven whenever there 
was the slightest excuse for being there. These 
boys who seemed quite grown-up men to four- 
teen-year-old Peggy, though she soon lost her 
shyness with them, and learned that they could 
frolic as well as the younger ones, went by the 
names of Happy, Wheedles and Shortie, the 
latter so nicknamed because he was six feet, 
four inches tall, though the others' nicknames 
had been bestowed because they really fitted. 
There were also two or three second-classmeu 
and youngsters who frequently visited Mrs. 
Harold, one in particular, who fascinated every 
one with whom he came in touch. His name 
was Durand Leroux, and, strange to state, he 
looked enough like Peggy to be her own brother, 
yet try as they would, no vestige of a relation- 
ship could be traced, for Peggy came of purely 



102 PEGGY STEWART 

Southern stock while Durand claimed New Eng~ 
land for his birthplace. Nevertheless, it be- 
came a good joke and they were often spoken 
of as the twins, though Durand was three years 
Peggy's senior. 

Polly's chum, Ealph Wilbur, was about the 
same age as Durand, though in the lowest or 
fourth class, having just entered the Academy, 
and consequently was counted as very small fry 
indeed. He was a quiet, undemonstrative chap 
but Peggy liked him from the moment she met 
him. He had mastered one important bit of 
knowledge : That a "plebe" does well to lie low, 
and as the result of mastering that salient fact 
he was well liked by the upper-classmen and 
found them ready to do him a good many 
friendly turns which a more "raty" fourth- 
classman would not have found coming his way. 

Altogether, Peggy found herself a member of 
a very delightful little circle and was happier 
than she had ever been in her life. In Mrs. 
Harold she found the love she had missed with- 
out understanding it, and in Polly a companion 
who filled her days with delight. 

And what busy days they were. So full of 
plans, duties and pleasures, for Mrs. Harold! 
had been very quick to understand the barren- 



PEGGY STEWAET : CHATELAINE 103 

ness of Peggy's life in spite of her rich supply 
of this world's goods, and she promptly set 
about rounding it out as it should have been. 

And so November with its wonderful Indian 
Summer slipped on, and it was during one of 
these ideal days that an absurd episode took 
place upon the well-conducted estate of Severn- 
dale, which caused Peggy to be run most unmer- 
cifully by the boys. But before we can tell of 
it a few words of explanation are needed. 

As can be readily understood, in a large in- 
stitution like the Naval Academy, where the 
boys foregather from every state in the Union, 
there are all classes and all types represented. 

Among them are splendid, fine principled 
fellows, with high moral standards and unim- 
peachable characters. And there are, alas, 
those of another type also, and these are the 
ones who invariably make trouble for others 
and are pretty sure to disgrace themselves. 
Fortunately, this type rarely survives the four 
years 7 crucial test of character, efficiency and 
aptitude, but is pretty sure to "pack its little 
grip and fade away," as the more eligible ones 
express it, long before it comes time to receive 
a diploma. 

Unhappily, there was one man in the present 



104 PEGGY STEWART 

first class who had managed to remain in the 
Academy in spite of conduct which would have 
"bilged" (Academy slang for the man who has 
to drop out) a dozen others, and who was the 
source of endless trouble for under-classmen 
over whom he contrived to exert a wholly ma- 
lign influence. He seemed to be not only utterly 
devoid of principle and finer feeling, but to take 
a perfectly fiendish delight in corrupting the 
younger boys. His one idea of being "a man" 
seemed to lie in the infringement of every reg- 
ulation of the Academy, and to induce others 
to do likewise. He had caused the president of 
his class endless trouble and mortification, and 
distressed Mrs. Harold beyond measure, for her 
interest in all in the Academy was very keen, 
and especially in the younger boys, whom she 
knew to be at the most susceptible period of 
their lives. 

Had his folly been confined to mere boyish 
nonsense it might have been overlooked, but iti 
had gone on from folly to vicious conduct and 
his boast was that it was his duty to harden the 
plebes, his idea of hardening them being to get 
them intoxicated. 

Now if there is one infringement of rules 
more sure to bring retribution upon the per- 



PEGGY STEWART : CHATELAINE 105 

petrator than any other, it is intoxication, and 
the guilty one is most summarily dealt with. 
This was fully known to Blue, the delinquent 
referred to, but he had by some miraculous 
method thus far managed to escape conviction 
if not suspicion, though more than one un- 
fortunate under-classman had been forced to 
tender his resignation as the result of going the 
pace with Blue. 

So serious had the situation become that the 
president of the first class had quietly set about 
a little plan in cooperation with other members 
of his class which would be pretty sure to rid 
the Academy of its undesirable acquisition. It 
was only a question of giving Blue enough time 
to work his own undoing, and as things had be- 
gun to shape, this seemed pretty sure to take 
place. Naturally, with feeling running so 
strong, Peggy heard a good deal of it when she 
visited Middies' Haven, especially since Durand 
Leroux, whom she had grown to like so well, 
seemed to have been selected by Blue as his 
newest victim, greatly to Mrs. Harold's dis- 
tress, for she knew Durand to be far too easily 
led, and too generous and unsuspicious to be- 
lieve evil of any one. Happy-go-lucky, care- 
free and ever ready for any frolic, he was 



106 PEGGY STEWAET 

exactly the type to fall a victim to Blue's in- 
sidious influence, for Blue could be fascinating 
to a degree when it served his turn. Blue was 
debarred the privilege of visiting Middies' 
Haven, and his resentment of this prompted 
him to try to wreak his vengeance upon Mrs. 
Harold's boys. To their credit be it told that 
he had hitherto failed, but she had misgivings 
of Durand; he was too mercurial. 

Now Peggy had, as chatelaine of Severndale, 
been more than once obliged to order the dis- 
missal of some of the temporary hands em- 
ployed about the paddock, for Shelby was rigid 
Upon the rule of temperance. He would have 
no bibblers near the animals under his charge. 
He had seen too much trouble caused by such 
worthless employees. Consequently, Peggy was 
wise beyond her years to the gravity of intem- 
perance and had expressed herself pretty em- 
phatically when Blue was discussed within the 
privacy of Middies' Haven, for what was told 
there was sacred. That was an unwritten law. 
And all this led to a ridiculous situation one day 
in the middle of November, for comedy and 
tragedy usually travel side by side in this world. 

It fell upon an ideal Saturday afternoon, a 
half-holiday at the Academy. It also happened 



PEGGY STEWAET ; CHATELAINE 107 

to be Wheedles' birthday, and Mrs. Harold 
never let a birthday pass without some sort of 
a celebration if it were possible to have one. 
She had told Peggy about it, and Peggy had 
promptly invited a little party up to Bound 
Bay. 

Now visiting for the midshipmen beyond the 
confines of the town of Annapolis is forbidden, 
but Mrs. Harold, as the wife of an officer, was 
at liberty to take out a party of friends in one 
of the Academy launches, so she promptly got 
together a congenial dozen, Ealph, Happy, 
Shortie, Wheedles and Durand, Captain Pennell 
and four others besides Polly and herself, and 
in the crispness of the Indian Summer after- 
noon, steamed away up the Severn to Bound 
Bay. 

Peggy had asked the privilege of providing 
the birthday feast and understanding the pleas- 
ure it would give her to do so, Mrs. Harold 
had agreed most readily. So immediately after 
luncheon formation the party embarked at the 
foot of Maryland Avenue and a gayer one it 
would have been hard to find. 

Knowing the average boy's appetite and the 
midshipman's in particular, Mrs. Harold had, 
with commendable forethought, brought with 



108 PEGGY STEWAET 

her a big box of crullers, in nowise disturbed 
by the thought that it might spoil their appe- 
tites for the delayed luncheon. Breakfast is 
served at seven A. M. in Bancroft Hall, and the 
interval between that and twelve-thirty lunch- 
eon is long enough at best. If you add to that 
another hour and a half it is safe to conclude 
that starvation will be imminent. Hence her 
box of crullers to avoid such a calamity. 

The launch puffed and chugged its way up 
the river, running alongside the pretty Severn- 
dale dock sharp to the minute of four bells, 
Peggy stood ready to welcome them. 

"Oh, isn't this lovely. Scramble ashore as 
fast as you can, for Aunt Cynthia is crazy lest 
her fried chicken 'frazzle ter a cinder,'" she 
cried as she greeted her guests. 

"Who said fried chicken?" cried Happy. 

"That last cruller you warned me against 
eating never fazed me a bit, Little Mother," 
asserted Wheedles, as he assisted Mrs. Harold 
up the stone steps leading from the dock. 

"Beat you in a race to the lawn, Polly," 
shouted Ralph, back in boyhood's world now 
that he was beyond the bounds of Bancroft, and 
the next moment he and Polly were racing 
across the lawn like a pair of children, for it 



PEGGY STEW AST : CHATELAINE 109 

seemed so good to be away for a time from the 
unrelaxing discipline of the Academy, and Polly 
realized this as well as the others. 

"We are to have luncheon out under the 
oaks," said Peggy. "It is too heavenly a day 
to be indoors. Jerome and Mammy have every- 
thing ready so we have nothing to do but eat. 
You won't mind picnicking will you, Mrs. 
Harold." 

"Mind!" echoed Mrs. Harold. "Why it is 
simply ideal, Peggy dear. What do you say, 
sons?" she asked turning to the others. 

"Say! Say! Let's give the Four-N Yell 
right off for Peggy Stewart, Chatelaine of 
Severndale!" cried Wheedles, and out upon the 
clear, crisp autumn air rang the good old Navy 
cheer: 

"N n n n! 
A a a a ! 
V v v v ! 
Y y y y! 

Navy! 

Peggy Stewart ! Peggy Stewart I 
Peggy Stewart!" 

Peggy's cheeks glowed and her eyes shone. 
It was something to win that cheer from these 



110 PEGGY STEWAET 

lads, boys at heart, though just at manhood's 
morning, and sworn to the service of their flag. 
How she wished Daddy Neil could hear it. 
Captain Pennell, into whose life during the past 
month had come some incentive to live, joined 
in the yell with a will, giving his cap a toss into 
the air when the echoes of it went floating out 
over the Severn, while Mrs. Harold and Polly 
waved their sweaters wildly, and yelled with 
all their strength. 

Never had Severndale been more beautiful 
than upon that November afternoon. October's 
rich coloring had given place to the dull reds, 
burnt-umbers, and rich wood browns of late 
autumn, though the grass was still green under- 
foot, and the holly and fir trees greener by 
contrast. 

And Peggy was in her element. 

Never in all her short life had she been so 
happy. All the instincts of her Stewart an- 
cestors with their Southern hospitality was 
finding expression as she led the way to a grove 
of mighty oaks, tinged by night frosts to the 
richest maroon, and literally kings of their sur- 
roundings, for the deep umber tones of the 
beeches only served to emphasize their coloring. 
Beneath them was spread a long table fairly 



PEGGY STEWAKT : CHATELAINE 111 

groaning with suggestions of the feast to come, 
and near it, flanked by Jerome and Mammy, 
stood Dr. Llewellyn. 

As the party came laughing, scrambling or 
walking toward it he advanced to welcome Mrs. 
Harold, saying: 

"Did you realize that there would be thirteen 
at the feast unless a fourteenth could be pressed 
into service? Consider me as merely a neces- 
sary adjunct, please, and don't let the young 
people regard me as a kill-joy because I wear 
a long coat buttoned straight up to my chin. 
The only difference really is that I have to keep 
mine buttoned whereas they have to hook their 
collars," and the good doctor laughed. Intro- 
ductions followed and then no time was lost in 
seating the luncheon party. 

Then came a moment's pause. Peggy under- 
stood and Mrs. Harold's intuition served her. 
She nodded to Dr. Llewellyn, and none there 
ever forgot the light which illumined the fine 
old face as he bowed his head and said softly 
in his beautifully modulated voice as though 
speaking to a loved companion. 

"Father, for a world so beautiful, for a day 
so perfect, for the joy and privilege of asso- 
ciation with these young people, and the new 



112 PEGGY STEWAET 

life which they infuse into ours, we older ones 
thank Thee. Bring into their lives all that is 
finest, truest, purest and best true manhood 
and womanhood. Amen." 

Not a boy or girl but felt the beauty of those 
eimple words and remembered them for many 
a day. 

The grove was not far enough from the house 
to chance the ruin of any of Aunt Cynthia's 
dainties. A grassy path led straight to it from 
her kitchen and at the conclusion of Dr. Llew- 
ellyn's grace Peggy nodded slightly to Jerome 
who in turn nodded to Mammy Lucy, who 
passed the nod along to some invisible individ- 
ual, the series of nods bringing about a result 
which nearly wrecked the dignity of the entire 
party, for out from behind the long brick build- 
ing in which Aunt Cynthia ruled supreme, filed 
a row of little darkies each burdened with a 
dish, each bare-footed, each immaculate in little 
white shirt and trousers, each solemnly rolling 
eyes, the whites of which rivaled his shirt, and 
each under Cynthia's dire threat of having his 
"haid busted wide open if he done tripped or 
spilled a thing," walking as though treading 
upon eggs. 

Along they came, their eyes fixed upon Je- 



PEGGY STEWART : CHATELAINE 113 

rorne, for literally they were "between the devil 
and the deep sea," Jerome and Cynthia being 
at the beginning and end of that path. Jerome 
and Mammy received and placed each steaming 
dish, the very personification of dignity, and in 
nowise disconcerted by the titter, which soon 
broke into a full-lunged shout, at the piccanin- 
nies' solemn faces. 

It was all too much for good Captain Pennell 
and the boys, and any "ice" which might pos- 
sibly have congealed the party, was then and 
there smashed to smithereens. 

"Great! Great!" shouted Captain Pennell, 
clapping his hands like a boy. 

"Eh, this is going some," cried Happy. 

"Bully for Chatelaine Peggy!" was Whee- 
dles ' outburst. 

"Who says Severndale isn't all right?" 
echoed Ealph. 

"Peggy, this is simply delicious," praised 
Mrs. Harold. 

Peggy glowed and Jerome and Mammy 
beamed, while the little darkies beat a grinning 
retreat to confide excitedly to Aunt Cynthia : 

"Dem gemmens an' ladies yonder in de grove 
was so mighty pleased dat dey jist nachally 
bleiged fer ter holler and laugh." 
8 



114 PEGGY STEWAET 

Far from proving drawbacks to the feast the 
captain and the doctor entered heart and soul 
into the frolic, the doctor as host, slyly nodding 
to the ever alert Jerome or Mammy to replenish 
plates, the captain waxing reminiscent and tell- 
ing many an amnsing tale, and Mrs. Harold 
beaming happily upon all, while to and from 
Cynthia's realm ran the little darkies full of 
enthusiasm for "dem midshipmen mens who 
suah could eat fried chicken, corn fritters, 
glazed sweet Waters, and waffles nuff fer ter 
bust most mens." 

Certainly, Aunt Cynthia knew her business 
and if ever a picnic feast was appreciated, that 
one was. 

But the climax came with the dessert. 



CHAPTER VIH 

A SHOCKING DEMONSTRATION OP 
INTEMPERANCE 

THE merrymaking was at its height. The 
festive board had been cleared for dessert. 
"Cleared for action," Captain Pennell said. 

"Not heavy fire I hope," sighed Shortie. 
"Peggy, will you excuse me, but I have surely 
got to let out a reef if anything more is com- 
ing," and Shortie let out a hole or two in the 
leather belt which encircled the region into 
which innumerable waffles had disappeared. 

"There are others; yes there are certainly 
others," laughed the captain. "Peggy, my 
child, to play Circe and still smile is absolutely 
cruel. The ancient Circe frowned upon her 
victims." 

"And how can I swallow another morsel," 
was Polly's wail. "Peggy Stewart, why will 
you have so many good things all at once? 
Couldn't you have spread it out over several 
meals and let us have it on the instalment 
plan?" 

115 



116 PEGGY STEWAET 

"Wheedles couldn't have his birthday that 
way," laughed Peggy, unwittingly letting a cat 
escape from a bag, for woe upon the midship- 
man whose birthday is known. Thus far Whee- 
dles had kept it a profound secret, and Mrs. 
Harold and Polly, who were wise to what was 
likely to happen to him if it were known, had 
kept mum. But, alack, they had forgotten to 
warn Peggy and her words touched off the mine. 

"Eh? What? Never! Something doing? 
You're a sly one. Thought you'd get off scot- 
free, did you? Not on your sweet life! Let's 
give him what for. Excuse this digression, 
Peggy; it's a ceremony never omitted. It would 
have been attended to earlier in the day had we 
suspected, and it can't be delayed any longer. 
Besides we must shake down that which has 
gone before if more is to follow. Beg pardon, 
Little Mother, but you know the traditions. 
Make our peace with Dr. Llewellyn for this lit- 
tle side-show," and the next second Wheedles 
was in full flight with all his chums hotfoot 
upon his trail. 

How in the world those boys could run as 
they did after such a feast without apoplexy 
following, must remain a mystery to all excepl- 
ing those who have lived in their midst. 



A SHOCKING DEMONSTRATION 117 

Over the lawn, dodging behind the oaks, 
vaulting the fence into the adjoining field, to the 
consternation of half a dozen sleek, sedate 
Alderney cows, tore Wheedles, his pursuers de- 
termined to overhand him and administer the 
drubbing incident to the iniquity of having a 
birthday. 

Dr. Llewellyn and Captain Pennell rose to 
their feet, one shouting, the other yelling with 
the rest of the mob, while Mrs. Harold and the 
girls could only sit and laugh helplessly. 

It was Shortie's long legs which overtook the 
quarry, both coming to the ground with a crash 
which would have killed outright any one but 
a football tackle and a basket-ball captain. In a 
second the whole bunch had the laughing, help- 
less victim. 

"Look the other way please, people," called 
SJhortie, promptly placing Wheedles across his 
knee two men holding his arms, two more his 
kicking legs while Shortie properly and delib- 
erately administered twenty sounding spanks. 
Then releasing him he said to the others who 
were nothing loath : 

' * Finish the job. I Ve done my part and I've 
had one corking big feed." 

And they finished it by holding poor Wheedles 



118 PEGGY STEWART 

by his shoulders and feet and bumping him upon 
the grass until he must have seen stars and 
the dinner was well shaken down. 

"Now will you try to get away from us?" 
they demanded, putting him upon his feet. 

"It's all over but the shouting, Little 
Mother, and we'll be good," they laughed as 
they trooped back to the table, settling blouses, 
and giving hasty pats to their dishevelled pates, 
for Wheedles had certainly given them a run 
for their money. 

Meanwhile, Jerome and Mammy had looked 
on half in consternation, half in glee, for where 
is your pure-blooded African, old or young, who 
doesn't sympathize with monkey-shines? As 
the administrators of justice were in the midst 
of their self-imposed duties, the half-dozen little 
darky servitors appeared around the corner of 
the house bearing the dessert, and there is no 
telling what might have happened to it had not 
Aunt Cynthia, hearing the uproar, and "cravin' 
fer ter know ef de rown' worl' was a-comin' to 
an end," followed close behind her satellites. 
That great mold of ice cream, mound of golden 
wine jelly, dishes of cakes galore would cer- 
tainly have met total destruction but for her 
prompt and emphatic command: 



A SHOCKING DEMONSTRATION 119 

"Yo' chillern 'tend to yo' bisness an 7 nem- 
mine what gwine on over yander,," That saved 
the feast, for the little darkies were convinced 
that ' * one ob dose young mens liked ter be kill 
fer suah." 

Had it been mid-July instead of a Maryland 
November that ice cream could not have van- 
ished more quickly, and in the process of its 
disappearance, Jerome vanished also. This 
was not noticed by Peggy's guests, but his re- 
turn was hailed with first a spontaneous shout 
and then a : 

1 ' Eah ! Bah ! Hoohrah ! Hoohrah ! Navy Hooh- 
rah!" and "Oh that's some cake!" "Nothing 
the matter with that edifice." "Who said we 
couldn't eat any morel" For with the dignity 
of a majordomo Jerome bore upon its frilled 
paper doily a huge chocolate layer cake, or- 
nately decorated with yellow icing, and twenty 
dark blue candles, their yellow flames barely 
flickering in the still air, while behind him 
walked his little trenchermen, one bearing a big 
glass pitcher of amber cider, another, dishes of 
nuts, and another a tray of Mammy Lucy's 
home-made candies. 

If ever a birthday cake was enjoyed and ap- 
preciated, certainly that one was, and there is 



120 PEOOY STEWART 

no telling how long the merry party would have 
lingered over the nuts, candies and cider had 
not a startling interruption taken place. 

The afternoon was well advanced. Mrs. Har- 
old, the captain and Dr. Llewellyn had reached 
the limit of their appetites and were now watch- 
ing and listening to the merry chatter of the 
young people who sat sipping the cider they 
had long since passed beyond the drinking point 
and eating the black walnuts and hickory nuts 
which had been gathered upon the estate, for 
Severndale was famous for its cider and nuts. 
The cider was made from a brand of apples 
which had been grown in the days of Peggy's 
great-grandfather and carefully cultivated for 
years. They ripened late, and needed a touch 
of frost to perfect them. The ciderhouse and 
press stood just beyond the meadow in which 
the Severndale cows led a luxurious life of it, 
and the odor of the rich fruit invariably drew 
a line of them to the dividing fence, where they 
sniffed and peered longingly at " forbidden 
fruit." But if every dog, as we are told, has 
his day, certainly a cow may hope to have hers 
some time. That it should have happened to be 
Wheedles' day also was merely accidental. 

As in most respectable communities there is 



A SHOCKING DEMONSTRATION 121 

almost invariably an individual or two whose 
conduct is open to criticism, so in Severndale's 
eminently irreproachable herd of sleek kine 
there was one obstreperous creature and her off- 
spring. They were possessed to do the things 
their more well conducted sisters never thought 
of doing. The cow had a strain of distinctly 
plebian blood which, transmitted to her calf, 
probably accounted for their eccentricities. If 
ever a fence was broken through, if ever a brim- 
ming pail of milk was overturned, if a stable 
towel was chewed to ribbons, a feed bin rifled, it 
could invariably be traced to Betsy Brindle and 
her incorrigible daughter Sally Simple, and this 
afternoon they surpassed themselves. As Peg- 
gy 's guests sat in that blissful state of mind and 
body resulting from being "serenely full, the 
epicure would say," they were startled by an 
altogether rowdy, abandoned "Moo-oo-oo-oo," 
echoed in a higher key, and over the lawn came 
two as disreputable-looking animals as one 
could picture, for Betsy Brindle and her daugh- 
ter, a pretty little year-old heifer, were unques- 
tionably, undeniably, hopelessly intoxicated. 
Betsy was swaying and staggering from side to 
side, wagging her head foolishly and mooing in 
the most maudlin manner, while Sally, whose 



PEGGY STEWART 



potations affected her quite differently, was ca- 
vorting madly thither and yonder, one moment 
almost standing upon her head, with hind legs 
and tail waving wildly in mid-air, the next with 
the order reversed and pawing frantically at the 
clouds. 

Behind the arrant ones in mad chase and con- 
sternation came the young negro lad whose duty 
it was to see that the cattle were properly 
housed at nightfall. He had gone to the meadow 
for his charges only to find these incorrigibles, 
as upon many another occasion, missing. How 
long they had been at largehe could not guess. 
At last, after long search, he discovered them in 
the inclosure where the barreled apples were 
kept and two whole barrels rifled. "When this 
had taken place his African mind did not an- 
alyze, though a scientist could have told him 
almost to an hour and explained also that in the 
cows' double stomachs the apples had promptly 
fermented and become highly intoxicating, with 
the present result. But poor Cicero was petri- 
fied. His young mistress entertaining "de qual- 
ity" and his unruly charges scandalizing her by 
tearing into their very midst. 

"Moo o moo, e moooo " bellowed Betsy, 
making snake tracks across the lawn. 



A SHOCKING DEMONSTRATION 123 

"Moo, Moo, Moo, Moo, Mooee " echoed 
Sally in lively staccato, doing a wild Highland 
fling with quite original steps. 

"Hi dar! Come 'long away. Get offen dat 
lawn. Come away from dat 'ar pa'ty," 
screamed Cicero. "Ma Lawd-a-mighty, dem 
cows gwine 'grace me an' ruin me fer evah," 
and it would doubtless have proved true had not 
the boys sprung to their feet to join in the cow- 
herd's duties, only too ready for any prank 
which presented an outlet for their fun-loving 
souls. Shortie promptly took command of the 
defending forces, and crying: 

"Come on, fellows, head the old lady off be- 
fore she knocks the table endwise," was off with 
a rush, the others hotfoot after him, waving 
arms and shouting until poor old Betsy Brin- 
dle's addled head must have thought all the 
imps of the lower regions turned loose upon her. 
Circling wide, the boys made a complete barrier 
beyond which the poor tipsy cow dared not 
force her way. So with a hopelessly pathetic 
"moo" and a look at her adversaries which 
might have done credit to the mock turtle of 
Lewis Carrol's creation, she surrendered forth- 
with, and promptly flopped down in the middle 
of the lawn. 



124 PEGGY STEWART 

Not so her daughter. Not a bit of it! She 
had not finished her fling and never did madder 
chase ensue than the one which at length ended 
in effectually cornering the flighty one. 

"Lemme tote her home. Per de Lawd's sake, 
sah, lemme tote her home quick, 'fore Unc' Jess 
an* Missie Peggy kill me daid," begged Cicero. 

"You tote her home, you spindly little 
shaver! She'd part her cable and go adrift in 
half a minute after you got under way. Come 
on, boys, we've got to convoy this craft into her 
home port. Make fast," and with the expe- 
rience of three years' training in seamanship, 
Shortie and his companions proceeded to make 
fast the recalcitrate Sally, and amidst hoots and 
yells calculated to sober' up the most hopeless 
inebriate, they led her to her barn where Cic- 
ero read her the riot act as he fastened her in 
her stall. Meanwhile Betsy had succumbed 
to slumber and at Dr. Llewellyn's suggestion 
was left to sleep off the effects of her over-in- 
dulgence. When the boys got back from the 
barn poor Peggy was run unmercifully. 

"And we thought Severndale a model home. 
A well-conducted establishment. Yet the very 
first time we come out here we find even the 
cows with a jag on that a confirmed toper 



A SHOCKING DEMONSTRATION 125 

couldn't equal if lie tried, and yet you pose as 
a model young woman, Peggy Stewart, and are 
accepted in all good faith as our Captain Polly's 
friend. Watch out, Little Mother. Watch out. 
We can't let our little Captain visit where even 
the cows give way to such disgraceful perform- 
ances." 

Poor Peggy was incapable of defending her- 
self for she and Polly had laughed until they 
were weak, and for many a long day after Peggy 
heard of her tipsy cows. 

When peace once more descended upon the 
land it was almost time for the visitors to re- 
turn to Annapolis, but before departing they 
visited the paddock, the stables, and the beau- 
tiful old colonial house. And so ended Whee- 
dles' birthday, and the next excitement was 
caused by the Army-Navy game to which Peggy 
went with Mrs. Harold's party, enjoying the 
outing as only a girl whose experiences have 
been limited, and who is ready for new impres- 
sions, can enjoy. And with the passing of the 
game November passed also and before she 
knew it Christmas was upon her, and Christmas 
hitherto for Peggy had meant merely gifts 
from Daddy Neil and a merrymaking for the 
servants. Without manifesting mndue curios- 



126 PEGGY STEWABT 

ity Mrs. Harold had learned a good deal con- 
cerning Peggy's life and nothing she had 
learned had touched her so deeply as the loneli- 
ness of the holiday season for the young girl. 
It seemed to her the most unnatural she had 
ever heard of, and something like resentment 
filled her heart when she thought of Neil Stew- 
art's unconscious neglect of his little daughter. 
She argued that his failing to appreciate that 
he was neglectful did not excuse the fact, and 
she resolved that this year Peggy should spend 
the holidays with her and Polly at Wilmot, and 
the servants at Severndale could look to their 
own well-being. Nevertheless, Peggy laid her 
plans for the pleasure of the Severndale help 
and saw to it that they would have a happy 
time under Harrison's supervision. Then Peggy 
betook herself to Wilmot for the happiest 
Christmastide she had ever known. 

The holiday season at the Academy is always 
a merry one, but until very recently, there has 
been no Christmas recess and the midshipmen 
had to find amusement right in the little old 
town of Annapolis, or within the Academy's 
limits. The frolicking begins with the Christ- 
mas eve hop given by the midshipmen. 

Mrs. Harold had not allowed Polly to attend 



A SHOCKING DEMONSTRATION 127 

the hops given earlier in the winter, for she was 
a wise woman and felt that social diversions of 
that nature were best reserved for later years, 
when school-days were ended. But she made 
an exception at the Christmas season, when 
Polly in common with other girls, had a holiday, 
and Peggy and Polly would go to the hop. 

Unless one has seen a hop given at the Acad- 
emy it is difficult to understand the beauty of 
the scene, and to Peggy it seemed a veritable 
fairy-land, with its lights, its banners, its 
lovely girls, uniformed laddies and music 
"which would make a wooden image dance," 
she confided to Mrs. Harold, and added: "And 
do you know, I used to rebel and be so cranky 
when Miss Arnaud came to give me dancing 
lessons when I was a little thing. I just hated 
it, and how she ever made me learn I just don't 
know. But I had to do as she said, and maybe 
I'm not glad that I did. Why, Little Mother, 
suppose I hadn't learned. Wouldn't I have 
been ashamed of myself now?" 

Mrs. Harold pulled a love-lock as she an- 
swered: "You train your colts, girlie, and they 
are the better for their training, aren't they!" 

Peggy gave a quick glance of comprehension, 
and her lips curved in a smile as she said : 



128 PEGGY STEWART 

"But they never behave half as badly as I 
used to with Miss Arnaud." 

And so the Christmas eve was danced away. 

'Christmas morning was the merriest Peggy 
had ever known. Long before daylight she waa 
wakened by Polly shaking her and crying: 

"Peggy, wake up ! Wake up ! What do you 
think? Aunt Janet has filled stockings and 
hung them on the foot of the bed. She must 
have slipped in while we were sound asleep, 
and oh, I don't wonder we slept after that 
dance, do you?" rattled on Polly, scrambling 
around to close the window and turn on the 
steam, for the morning was a snappy one. 

"Whow! Ooo!" yawned Peggy, to whom late 
hours were a novelty and who felt as though 
she had dropped asleep only ten minutes before. 
"Why, Polly Howland, it's pitch dark, and mid- 
night! I know it is," she protested. "How 
do you know there are stockings there, any- 
way?" 

"I was shivering and when I reached over to 
get the puff cover my hand touched something 
bumpy. I've felt of it and I know it's a stock- 
ing. I never thought of having one, for I 
thought all those things were way back in little 
girl days. But turn on the electric lights quick 



A SHOCKING DEMONSTRATION 129 

they're on your side of the bed and we'll see 
what's in them; the stockings, I mean." 

Peggy turned the button and the lights 
flashed up. 

11 Goodness, isn't it freezing cold," she cried. 
"Let's put the puff cover around us," and 
rolled up in the big down coverlet the girls dove 
into their bumpy stockings, exclaiming or laugh- 
ing over the contents, for evidently the boys 
had been in the secret, for out of Peggy's came 
a little bronze cow and calf labeled "C. and S." 

"Now what in the world does C. and S. stand 
for, I wonder?" she said. 

"Oh, Peggy, those are the initials for 'Clean 
and Sober,' the report the officer-of-the-deck 
makes when the enlisted men come aboard after 
being on liberty. If they are intoxicated and 
untidy they check them up D. and D. which 
means Drunk and -Dirty. You'll never hear 
the last of Betsy Brindle's caper." 

"Well look and see what they've run you 
about, for you won't escape, I'll wager," 
laughed Peggy as merrily as though it wera 
broad daylight instead of five A. M. 

Polly dove into her stocking to fish out a 
tiny rocking horse with a doll riding astride it. 
The horse was to all intents and purposes on a 
9 



130 PEGGY STEWART 

mad gallop, for his rider's hair, dyed a vivid 
red, was streaming out behind, her collar was 
flying loose, her feet were out of the stirrups 
and one shoe was gone. The mad rider bore 
the legend : 

"Lady Gilpin." 

A dozen other nonsensical things followed, 
but down in the toe of each was a beautiful 19 
class pin for each of the girls, with " Co-ed 
19 " engraved on them and cards saying 
"with the compliments of the bunch." 

By the time the stockings' contents were in- 
vestigated it was time to dress and go with 
Mrs. Harold to see the Christmas Parade, al- 
ways given before breakfast in Bancroft Hall 
and through the Yard. Mrs. Harold tapped 
upon the girls' door and was greeted with 
"Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas!" She 
entered, taking them in her arms and saying: 

"Dozens and dozens for each of you, my 
little foster-daughters. I am so glad to have 
you with me, for Christmas isn't Christmas 
without young people to enjoy it, and I think 
I've got some of the very sweetest and best to 
be had both daughters and sons. There are 
no more children like my foster-children. I 
am one lucky old lady." 



A SHOCKING DEMONSTRATION 131 

"Old!" cried Peggy indignantly, "Why 
you'll never, never seem old to us, for you just 
think, and see, and feel every single thing as 
we do. ' ' 

"That's a pretty compliment," replied Mrs. 
Harold, sealing her words with a kiss which 
was returned with earnest warmth, for Peggy 
was learning to love this friend very dearly. 

The Christmas Parade was funny enough, 
for the midshipmen had sent to Philadelphia 
for their costumes and every living thing, from. 
Fiji Islanders, to priests, bears, lions, ballet 
girls or convicts raced through the Yard to the 
music of "Tommy's band" as they called the 
ridiculous collection of wind instruments over 
which one of the midshipmen waved his baton 
as bandmaster. 

When this great show ended, all hurried away 
to dress for breakfast formation, for many were 
the invitations to breakfast with friends out in 
town, legal holidays being the only days upon 
which such privileges were allowed. Mrs. Har- 
old had a party of five beside Polly and Peggy 
.and the griddle cakes which vanished that 
morning rivaled the number of waffles which 
had disappeared at Severndale. When break- 
fast ended Mrs. Harold said: 



132 PBGOY STEWART 

"Can you young people give me about two 
hours out of your day? Polly and I have laid 
a little plan for someone's pleasure, which we 
know will be enhanced if you boys cooperate 
with us." 

" Count on us, Little Mother." 

"We'll do anything we can for you, for yon 
do enough for us." 

"Sure thing," were the hearty replies, while 
Peggy slipped to her side to whisper: "I'd al- 
most be willing to give up my * Co-ed' class pin 
if you asked me to." 

"No such sacrifice as that, honey. But let's 
all go up to Middies' Haven where I'll tell you 
all about it." 



CHAPTEE IX 

DUNMORE'S LAST GHEISTMAS 

WHEN Mrs. Harold's little breakfast party 
returned to her sitting-room, she dropped into 
her favorite chair before the blazing log fire, 
motioning to the others to gather about her. 
Polly and Peggy promptly perched upon the 
arms of her chair, nestling close ; Durand squat- 
fed, Turk-fashion, upon a big cushion at her 
feet. Wheedles leaned with unstudied grace 
against the mantel-shelf, while Happy, Kalph, 
and Shortie seated themselves upon the big 
couch whose capacity seemed to be something 
like the magic tent of the Arabian Nights' tale, 
and capable of indefinite expansion. 

"What is it, Little Mother?" asked Whee- 
dles, while Durand glanced up with his deep, 
dark eyes, and a slight quiver of the sensitive 
mouth. 

"Just a little plan I have for Dunmore's hap- 
piness today" she answered, alluding to a sec- 
ond-classman who had been severely injured 

13d 



134 PEGGY STEWART 

upon the football field late in October, and who 
had been paralyzed ever since. His people 
lived far away and it was difficult for them to 
reach him, and the day would have been a 

sad one but for his chums in the Academy and 
his many friends. 

Among these latter none were more devoted 
than Mrs. Harold and Polly, for Lewis Dun- 
more had heen one of the Little Mother's boys 
since he first entered the Academy and she was 
nearly heart-broken at the serious outcome of 
his accident, as no hope was entertained of his 
recovery. 

All knew this, and the tenderest sympathy 
went out to the sick lad who had never for a 
moment ceased to hope for ultimate recovery 
and whose patience, courage and cheerfulness 
under conditions so terrible, filled with admira- 
tion the hearts of all who knew him. 

Polly had been untiring in her devotion to 
him, and "the little foster-sister," as he called 
her, spent many an hour in the hospital, read- 
ing, talking, or whistling like a bird, for whis- 
tling was Polly's sole accomplishment. Peggy 
often went with her, for she loved to make others 
happy, and many a weary hour was made 
less weary for him by the two girls, and Peggy 



DUNMOBE'S LAST CHRISTMAS 135 

had sent many a dainty dish from Severndale, 
or the fruit and flowers for which it was noted. 
She knew Polly and Mrs. Howland had planned 
something for Christmas day, but waited for 
them to tell her, feeling delicate about asking 
questions. She had sent over every dainty she 
could think of and great bunches of mistletoe. 

Mrs. Harold smiled upon the young faces she 
loved so dearly and said 

"Yesterday morning Polly and I sent up a 
lot of Christmas greens and a tree for Lewis, 
and later went up to dress it, arranging with 
the nurses to put it in his room when he was 
sleeping that it might be the first thing his eyes 
fell upon when he wakened this morning. He 
has probably been looking at it many an hour, 
but we told the nurses we would come up about 
ten-thirty to give him the presents. We wanted 
to make it a merry hour for him, and so a lot of 
nonsensical things were put on for his friends 
also, among them you boys and some others to 
whom I have written, and who will meet us 
there. Can you join us?" 

' ' Can we ! Well why not ? Sure ! Poor old 
ohap!" were some of the hearty responses. 

"I knew I could count upon you, so let us 
start at once. Go get ready, girls." 



136 PEGGY STEWART 

The girls flew to their room and a moment 
later came back coated and furred, for the walk 
up to the hospital on the hill was a bleak one. 
The boys were inured to all sorts of weather, 
and their heavy overcoats were a safe protec- 
tion against it. It was a merry, frolicking party 
which set forth, and as they crossed the athletic 
field a lively snowballing took place, for a light 
snow had fallen the day before, turning the 
Yard into a beautiful white world. 

Mrs. Harold was not to be outdone by any 
of her young people, but catching up handfuls 
of snow in her woolen-gloved hands tossed 
snowballs with the best of them. 

The contrast from the joy, the vigorous healths 
of the -group entering Dunmore's room to the 
still, helpless figure lying upon the cot was 
pathetic. The invalid could not move his head, 
but his great brown eyes, and fine mouth smiled 
his welcome to his friends, and he said: 

1 ' Oh, it was great ! Great ! I saw it the first 
thing when I woke up. And the holly and 
mistletoe up here over my bed. I don't see 
now they got it hung there without my knowing 
when they did it." 

"That was our secret," cried Polly. "An<J 
Peggy sent over the mistletoe from Severndale, 



DUNMORE'S LAST CHRISTMAS 137 

though she didn't know we were to have the 
tree." 

" Peggy, you are all right," was Dunmore's 
hearty praise. "But that tree is the prettiest 
thing ever. I'm as crazy as a kid about it. I 
sort of dreaded Christmas, but you people have 
fixed it up all right and I'm no end grateful. 
It's a great day after all. 

Peggy who was standing where Dunmore 
could not see her glanced at Polly. Polly 
nodded in quick understanding. "The day all 
right," and the poor lad helpless as some life- 
less thing. The girls' eyes filled with quick 
tears which they hastened to wink away, for 
not for worlds would they have saddened what 
both knew to be the last Christmas Lewis could 
pass in this world, and Polly cried: 

"Now, Tanta, let us have the presents!" 
For an hour the room was the scene of a happy 
merrymaking, as Shortie, because he was "built 
on lines to reach the top-gallants," they said, 
distributed the gifts, funny or dainty, and 
Lewis' bed looked like a stand in a bazar. Mrs. 
Harold had given him a downy bathrobe; 
Peggy had made him a hop pillow; Polly had 
made up a nonsense jingle for each day for a 
month, sealing each in an envelope and label- 



138 PEGGY STEWART 

ling it with dire penalties if read before the 
date named. 

But best of all, the class had sent him his 
class-ring and when it was slipped upon his 
finger by his roommate, the poor lad broke 
down completely. 

Mrs. Harold hastened to the bedside and the 
others did their best to relieve the situation. 

The class-ring is never worn by a second- 
classman until the last exam is passed by the 
first class. Then the new class-rings blossom 
forth in all their glory, for this ring is pecu- 
liarly significant: It is looked forward to as 
one of the greatest events in the class* history, 
and is a badge of union forever. 

Eealizing that Dunmore could not be with 
them when the time came for them to put on 
their own, his classmates had unanimously 
voted to give him his as a Christmas gift, and 
nothing they could have done could possibly 
have meant so much to him. He was prouder 
than he had ever been before in his life, but 
with the gift came the faint premonition of the 
inevitable; the first doubt of future recovery; 
the first hint that perhaps he had been harbor- 
ing false hopes, and it almost overwhelmed him, 
and Mrs. Harold read it all in a flash. 



DUNMORE'S LAST CHRISTMAS 139 

But Peggy saved the day. Slipping to his 
side she said : 

"Aren't yon proud to be the very first to 
wear it? They wanted to give you a Christmas 
present, but couldn't think of a single thing 
you'd enjoy while you were so ill. Then they 
thought of the ring. Of course you could enjoy 
that, and there was no reason in the world that 
you shouldn't either, and the other boys will be 
happy seeing you wear it and count the days 
before they can put theirs on. And it is such 
a beauty, isn't it? We are all so glad you've 
got it. You can just wiggle your finger and 
crow over the others every time they come to 
visit you." 

Lewis looked up at her and smiled. He under- 
stood better than she guessed why she had 
talked so fast, and was grateful, but the pang 
was beneath the smile nevertheless. 

Then dinner-hour drawing near the white- 
capped nurse came in as a gentle hint that her 
patient had had about all the excitement he 
could stand, and Mrs. Harold suggested their 
departure. Their last glance showed them 
Lewis Dunmore looking at his class-ring, for 
he could move that arm just enough to enable 
him to raise the hand within his range of vision. 



The week following was a happy one for all. 
Each afternoon an informal dance was given 
in the gymnasium and the girls pranced to their 
hearts' content. As the week drew to an end 
the weather grew colder and colder until with 
Saturday came a temperature which froze Col- 
lege Creek solid. This was most unusual for 
the season, but was hailed with wild rejoicings 
by the boys and girls, for skating is a rare 
novelty in Annapolis. 

Saturday dawned an ideal winter day, clear, 
cold, and white. 

"Can you skate, Peggy?" asked Polly, diving 
into her closet for a pair of skates which she 
had brought South with her* though with small 
hope of using them. 

"Y e s," answered Peggy, doubtfully. "I 
can skate after a fashion, but I'm afraid my 
skating will not show to very great advantage 
beside yours, you Northern lassie." 

''Nonsense. I'll wager one of Aunt Cyn- 
thia's cookies that you can skate as well as I 
can, though you never would admit it." 

There had not been much chance for stirring 
exercise for the girls since the snow fell and 
really cold weather set in, for there was not 
much pleasure in riding under such conditions, 



DUNMOBE'S LAST CHB1JSTMAS 141 

and they had both missed the healthy outdoor 
sport. But. the prospect of skating set them 
both a-tingle to get upon the ice and they were 
eagerly awaiting the official order from the 
Academy, for no one is allowed upon the ice 
until it is pronounced entirely safe by the 
authorities, and the Commandant gives per- 
mission. Of course, this does not apply to the 
townspeople or to that section of the creek 
beyond the limits of the Academy, but it is very 
rigidly enforced within it. As the girls were 
eager to learn whether the brigade would have 
permission that afternoon, they went over to 
hear the orders read at luncheon formation, 
and came back nearly wild with delight to in- 
form Mrs. Harold that not only was permission 
granted but that the band would play at the 
edge of the creek from four until six o'clock. 

"And if that won't be ideal I'd like to know 
what can be," cried Polly, and scarcely had she 
spoken when the telephone rang. 

"Hello. Yes, it's Polly. Of course we can. 
What time? To the very minute. Yes, Peggy's 
right here beside me and fairly dancing up and 
down to know what we are talking about. No, 
don't come out for us; we will meet you at the 
gate at three-thirty sharp. Good-bye, 1 ' and 



142 PEGGY STEWAET 

snapping the receiver into its socket, Polly 
whirled about to catch Peggy in a regular bear 
hug and cry : 

' ' It was Happy. He and the others want us 
all to come over at three-thirty. Aunt Janet, 
too. They have an ice-chair for her ; they bor- 
rowed it from someone. Oh, won't it be fun!" 

Peggy's dark eyes sparkled, then she said: 
' ' But my skates. They are 'way out at Severn- 
dale. " 

Without a word Mrs. Harold walked to the 
telephone and a moment later was talking with 
Harrison. The skates would be sent in by the 
two o'clock car. Promptly at three-thirty the 
girls and Mrs. Harold entered the Maryland 
Avenue gate where they were met by Shortie, 
Wheedles, Happy, Durand and Ealph; Durand 
promptly appropriating Peggy, while Ealph 
cried: 

"Come on, Polly, this is going to be like old 
times up at Montgentian." 

It would have been hard to picture a prettier 
sight than the skaters presented that afternoon, 
the boys in their heavy reefers and woolen 
watch-caps; the girls in toboggan caps and 
sweaters. Over in the west the sky was a rich 
rosy glow, for the sun sinks behind the hills by 



DUNMOBE'S LAST CHRISTMAS 143 

four-thirty during the short winter afternoons. 
The Naval Academy band stationed at the edge 
of the broad expanse of the ice-bound creek was 
sending its inspiring strains out across the 
keen, frosty air which seemed to hold and toy 
with each note as though reluctant to let it die 
away. 

The boys took turns in pushing Mrs. Har- 
old 's chair, spinning it along over the smooth 
surface of the ice in the wake of Peggy, Polly 
and the others, who now and again joined hands 
to " snap-the-whip, " " run- the- train," or go 
through gome pretty figure. Polly and Ealph 
were clever at this and very soon Peggy caught 
the trick. The creek was crowded, for nearly 
half the town as well as the people from the 
Yard were enjoying the rare treat. 

The band had just finished a beautiful waltz 
to which all had swung across the creek in per- 
fect rhythm, when one of the several enlisted 
men, stationed along the margin of the creek, 
and equipped with stout ropes and heavy planks 
in the event of accident, sounded "attention" 
on a bugle. Instantly, every midshipman, of- 
ficer, or those in any way connected with the 
Academy, halted and stood at attention to hear 
the order. 



144 'PEGGY STBWABT 

"No one will be allowed to go below the 
bridge. Ice is not safe," rang out the order. 

Nearly every one heard and to hear was, of 
course, to obey for all in the Academy, but 
there are always heedless ones, or stupid ones 
in this world, and in the numbers gathered upon 
the ice that afternoon there were plenty of that 
sort, and it sometimes seems as though they 
were sent into this world to get sensible people 
into difficulties. Of course the heedless ones 
were too busy with their own concerns to pay 
heed to the warning. A group of young girls 
from the town were skating together close to 
the lower bridge. Durand and Peggy were near 
the Marine Barracks shore, when they became 
aware of their reckless venturing upon the 
dangerous ice. 

"Durand, look," cried Peggy. "Those girls 
must be crazy to go out there after hearing that 
order. ' ' 

"They probably never heard it at all. Some 
of those cits make me tired. They seem to 
have so little sense. Now 1*11 bet my sweater 
that every last person connected with the Yard 
heard it, but, I'd bet two sweaters that not half 
the people from the town did, yet there was no 
reason thev shouldn't. It was read for their 



DUNMORE'S LAST CHRISTMAS 145 

benefit just exactly as much as ours, but they 
act as though we belonged to some other world 
and the orders were for our benefit, but their 
undoing." 

"Not quite so bad as all that, I hope," 
laughed Peggy, as they joined hands and swung 
away. A moment later she gave a sharp cry. 
Durand had turned and was skating backward 
with Peggy "in tow." He spun around just 
in time to see a little girl about ten years of age 
throw up her hands and crash through the rot- 
ten ice. Peggy had seen her as she laughingly 
broke away from the group of older girls to 
dart beneath the bridge. 

' ' Quick ! Beat it for help, ' ' shouted Durand, 
flinging off his reefer and striking out for the 
screaming girls. He had not made ten strides 
when a second girl in rushing to her friend's 
assistance, went through too, the others darting 
back to safer ice and shrieking for help. 
Durand now had a proposition on hand in short 
order, but Peggy's wits worked rapidly: If she 
left Durand to go for help he would have his 
hands more than full. Moreover, the alarm had 
already been sounded and the Jackies were com- 
ing on a run. So she did exactly as Durand was 
doing : laid flat upon the ice and worked her way 
10 



146 PEGGY STEWAET 

toward the second struggling victim. Durand 
had caught the child and was doing his best to 
keep her afloat and himself from being dragged 
into the freezing water, but Peggy's victim was 
older and heavier. 

"Oh, save me! Save me!" she screamed. 

"Hush. Keep still and we'll get you out,*' 
commanded Peggy, doing her utmost to keep 
free of the wildly thrashing arms, while holding 
on to the girl's coat with all the strength of 
desperation. It would have gone ill with the 
girl and Peggy, however, had not help come 
from the bridge where the Jackies had acted as 
such men invariably do : promptly and without 
fuss. In far less time than seemed possible, 
two of them, with ropes firmly bound about 
their bodies, were in the water, while two more 
pulled them and their struggling charges to 
safety, and two more in the perfect order of 
their discipline drew Peggy and Durand from 
their perilous situation, and just then Mrs. Har- 
old's party came rushing up, she and Polly 
white with terror. 

"Peggy, Peggy, my little girl! If anything 
had happened to you," cried Mrs. Harold, gath- 
ering her into her arms. 

"But there hasn't. Not a single thing, Little 



DUNMORE'S LAST CHRISTMAS 147 

Mother. I'm not hurt a bit, and only a little 
wet and that won't hurt me because my clothes 
are so thick." But the girl's voice shook and 
she trembled in spite of her words, for the 
last few minutes had taxed both strength and 
courage. 

Meantime the boys had gathered about Dur- 
and, but boy-like made light of the episode 
though down in their hearts they knew it had 
required pluck and steady nerve to do as he 
had done, and their admiration found expres- 
sion in hauling off their reefers to force them 
upon him, or in giving him a clip upon the back 
and telling him he was "all. right," and to 
"come on back to Bancroft for a rub-down after 
his bath." But no one underrated the courage 
of either and they were hurried home to be 
cared for, though it was many hours before 
Mrs. Harold could throw off the horror of what 
might have happened, and Peggy was a heroine 
for many a day to her intense annoyance. 



CHAPTER X 
A DOMESTIC EPISODE 

In spite of the scare all had received the 
previous Saturday, the New Year's eve hop 
was thoroughly enjoyed, for neither Durand 
nor Peggy was the worse for the experience, 
and the old year was danced out upon light, 
happy toes, only one shadow resting upon the 
joyous evening. . 

For over a year, there had been an officer 
stationed at the Academy who had been a 
source of discord among his fellow-officers, and 
a martinet with the midshipmen. He was small, 
petty, unjust, and not above resorting to meth- 
ods despised by his confreres. He was loathed 
by the midshipmen because they could never 
count upon what they termed "a square deal," 
and consequently never knew just where they 
stood. 

There were several who seemed to have in- 
curred his especial animosity, and Durand in 
particular he hated: hated because the boy's 

148 



A DOMESTIC EPISODE 140 

quick wits invariably got him out of the scrapes 
which his mischievous spirit prompted, and 
"Gumshoes," as the boys had dubbed the of- 
ficer, owing to his habit of sneaking about 
"looking for trouble," was not clever enough 
to catch him. 

And thus it came about that, being once more 
circumvented by Durand on New Year's eve in 
a trivial matter at which any other officer would 
have laughed, he resorted to ways and means 
which a man with a finer sense of honor would 
have despised and again he failed. But his 
chance came on New Year's day, when Durand, 
led into one of the worst scrapes of his life by 
Blue, fell into his clutches and the outcome was 
so serious that the entire brigade was restricted 
to the Yard 's limits for three months, and gloom 
descended not only upon the Academy but upon 
all its friends. 

Naturally, with her boys debarred from Mid- 
dies' Haven, Mrs. Harold could do little for the 
girls, and their only sources of pleasure lay in 
such amusements as the town afforded and 
these were extremely limited. So much time 
was spent at Severndale with Peggy, and it was 
during one of these visits that Mrs. Harold fig- 
ured in one of the domestic episodes of Severn- 



150 PEGGY STEWART 

dale. They were not new to Peggy for she was 
Southern-born and used to the vagaries and 
childlike outbreaks of the colored people. But 
even though Mrs. Harold had lived among them 
a great deal, and thought she understood them 
pretty thoroughly, she had yet to learn some of 
the African's eccentricities. 

January dragged on, the girls working with 
Captain Pennell and Dr. Llewellyn. During 
the month, one of the hands, Joshua Jozadak 
Jubal Jones, by the way, fell ill with typhoid 
fever, and was removed to the hospital. From 
the first his chances of recovery seemed doubt- 
ful, and "Minervy" his wife, as strapping, ro- 
bust a specimen of her race as poor Joshua was 
tiny and, as she expressed it, "pore and pind- 
liny was in a most emotional frame of mind. 
Again and again she came up to the great house 
to "crave consolation! " from Miss Peggy, or 
Mammy Lucy, though, truth to tell, Mammy's 
sympathies were not very deeply enlisted. 
Minervy Jones did not move in the same social 
set in which Mammy held a dignified position: 
Mammy was "an emerged Baptis* "; Minervy 
a "Shoutin* Mefodist," and a strong feeling 
existed between the two little colored churches. 
Peggy visited the hospital daily and saw that 



A DOMESTIC EPISODE 151 

Joshua lacked for nothing. Mrs. Harold was 
deeply concerned for Peggy 's sake, for Peggy 
looked to the well-being of all the help upon tha 
estate with the deep interest which generations 
of her ancestors had manifested, indeed re- 
garded as incumbent upon them and part of 
their obligation to their dependents. 

Days passed and poor Joshua grew no better, 
Minervy meanwhile spending most of her time 
in Aunt Cynthia's kitchen where she could sus- 
tain the inner woman with many a tidbit from 
the white folks' table, and speculate upon what 
was likely to become of them if her "pore lil 
chillern were left widderless orphans." It 
need hardly be added that the prospective "wid- 
derless orphans" were left to shift largely for 
themselves while she was accepting both mental 
and physical sustenance. 

It was upon one of these visits, so indef- 
initely prolonged that Mammy's patience was 
at the snapping point, that she decided to give 
a needed hint. Entering the kitchen she said 
to Aunt Cynthia : 

"'Pears ter me yo* must have powerful lot 
o' time on han', Sis' Cynthy." 

"Well'm I ain't. No ma'am, not me," was 
Cynthia's prompt reply, for to tell the truth she 



152 PEGGY STEWABT 

was beginning to weary of doling out religious 
consolation and bodily sustenance, yet hospital- 
ity demanded something. 

11 Well, I reckons Miss Peggy's cravin' fer her 
luncheon, an' it's high time she done got it, too. 
Is yo' know de time?" 

"Cou'se I knows de time," brindled Cynthia, 
"but 'pears lak time don' count wid some folks. 
Kin yo ' see de clock, Mis' Jones?" 

The question was sprung so suddenly that 
Minerva jumped. 

"Yas'm, yas'm, Mis' Johnson, I kin see hit; 
yis, I kin, ' ' answered Minervy, craning her neck 
for a pretended better view. 

"Well, den, please, ma'am, tell me just 
'zactly what it is." 

This was a poser. Minervy knew no more 
of telling time than one of her own children, 
but rising from her chair, she said: 

"I 'clar ter goodness, I'se done shed so many 
tears in ma sorrer and grief over Joshua dat I 
fiho' is a-loosin' ma eyesight." She then went 
close to the clock, looked long and carefully at 
it, but shook her head doubtfully. At length 
a bright idea struck her and turning to Cynthia 
she announced : 

"Why, Sis' Cynthia, I believes yo' tryin' ter 



projec' wid me ; dat clock don ' strike 'tall. But 

I 'clar I mus' be a-humpin' masef todes dem 
chillern. I shore mus'." 

"Yes, I'd 'vise it pintedly," asserted Cyn- 
thia, while Mammy Lucy added : 

"It's sprisin' how some folks juties slips dey 
min's." 

Three days later word came to Severndale 
that Joshua could hardly survive the day and 
Peggy, as she felt duty bound, went over to 
Minervy's cabin. She found her sitting before 
her fire absolutely idle. 

"Minervy," she began, "I have had word 
from the hospital and Joshua is not so well. I 
think you would better go right over." 

" Yas'm, yas'm, Miss Peggy, I spec's yo' sees 
it dat-a-way, honey, but but yo' sees de chil- 
lern dey are gwine car'y on scan'lus if I leaves 
'em. My juty sho' do lie right hyer, yas'm it 
sho' do." 

"But Minervy, Joshua cannot live." 

"Yas'm, but he ain' in his min' an' wouldn't 
know me no how, but dese hyer chillerns is all 
got dey min's cl'ar, an' dey stummicks empty. 
No'm, I knows yo' means it kindly an ' so I teks 
hit, but I knows ma juty," and nothing Peggy 
could say had any effect 



154 PEGGY STEWAET 

That night Joshua died. The word came to 
Severndale early the following morning. 

"Well," said Mrs. Harold, "from her philo- 
sophical resignation to the situation yesterday, 
I don't imagine she will be greatly overcome 
by the news.'* 

"Mh um," was Mammy's non-committal 
lip-murmur, and Peggy wagged her head. Mrs. 
Harold and Polly were spending the week at 
Severndale, and were dressing for breakfast. 
Their rooms communicated with Peggy's and 
they had been laughing and talking together 
when the 'phone message came. 

"Mammy," called Peggy. "Please send 
word right down to Minervy." 

"Yas, baby, I sends it, and den yo' watch 
out," warned Mammy. 

"What for!" asked Peggy. 

" Fo ' dat 'oman. She gwine mak one fuss dis 
time ef she never do again." 

"Nonsense, Mammy, I don't believe she cares 
one straw anyway. She is the most unfeeling 
creature I've ever seen." 

"She may be onfeelin' but she ain' orc-doin', 
yo* mark me," and Mammy went off to do as 
she was bidden. 

Perhaps twenty minutes had passed when 



A DOMESTIC EPISODE 155 

the quiet of the lower floor was torn by wild 
shrieks and on-rushing footsteps, with voices 
vainly commanding silence and decorum: com- 
mands all unheeded. Then came a final rush 
up the stairs and Minervy distraught and dis- 
hevelled burst into Mrs. Harold's room, and 
without pausing to see whom she was falling 
upon, flung her arms about that startled woman, 
shrieking : 

"He's daid! He'sdaid! Dem pore chillern 
is all widderless orphans. I felt it a-comin'! 
Who' gwine feed an' clothe and shelter dose 
pore lambs? Ma heart's done bruck! Done 
bruck!" 

"Minervy! Minervy! Do you know what 
you are doing ! Let go of Mrs. Harold this in- 
stant," ordered Peggy, nearly overcome with 
mortification that her guest should meet with 
such an experience at Severndale. "Do you 
hear me? Control yourself at once." 

She strove to drag the hysterical creature 
from Mrs. Harold, but she might as well have 
tried to drag away a wild animal. Minervy 
continued to shriek and howl, while Mammy, 
scandalized beyond expression, scolded and 
stormed, and Jerome called from the hall below. 

Then Mrs. Harold's sense of humor came to 



156 PEGGY STEWART 

her rescne and she had an inspiration, for she 
promptly decided that there was no element of 
grief in Minervy's emotions. 

11 Minerva, Minerva, have you ordered your 
mourning? You knew Joshua could not live," 
she cried. 

Had she felled the woman with a blow the 
effect could not have been more startling. In- 
stantly the shrieks ceased and releasing her 
hold Minervy struck an attitude: 

"No 'in, I hasn't! I cyant think how I could 
a-been so careless-like, an' kuowin' all de en- 
durin' time dat I boun' fer ter be a widder. 
How could I a-been so light-minded?" 

"Well, you have certainly got to have some 
black clothes right off. It would be dreadful 
not to have proper mourning for Joshua." 

Meanwhile Peggy and Polly had fled into the 
next room. 

"I sho' mus', ma'am. How could I a-been so 
'crastinatin' an' po' Joshua a-dyin' all dese 
hyer weeks. I am' been 'spectful to his chil- 
lern ; dat I ain't. Lemme go right- way an' tink 
what I's needin'. But please ma'am, is yo' 
a widder 'oman? Case ef yo' is yo's had spur- 
rience an' kin tell me bes' what I needs." 

It was with difficulty that Mrs. Harold con- 



A DOMESTIC EPISODE 157 

trolled her risibles, so utterly absurd rather 
than pathetic was the whole situation, for not 
one atom of real grief for Joshua lay in poor, 
shallow Minervy's heart. Then Mrs. Harold 
replied : 

"No, Minervy. I am not a widow; at least 
I am only a grass widow, and they do not wear 
mourning, you know." 

"No'm, no'm, I spec's not. But what mus* 
I git for masef an* does po' orphans!" 

"Well, you have a black skirt, but have you 
a waist and hat? And you would better buy a 
black veil; not crape, it is too perishable; get 
nun's veiling, and 

"Nun's veilin'? Nun's veilin'?" hesitated 
Minervy. "But I ain' no nun, mistiss, I'se a 
widder. I ain' got no kind er use fer dem 
nunses wha' don' never mahry. I'se been a 
mahryin' 'oman, I is." 

"Well you must choose your own veil then," 
Mrs. Harold managed to reply. 

"Yas'rn, I guesses I better, an' I reckons I 
better git me a belt an' some shoes, 'case if I 
gotter be oneasy in ma min' dars no sort o* 
reason fer ma bein' uneasy in ma foots too, 
ner dem chillern neither. Dey ain' never is had 
shoes all 'roun' ter onct, but I reckons dey better 



158 PEGGY STEWART 

be fitted out right fer dey daddy's funeral. 
Dey can't tend it but onct in all dey life-times 
no how. And 'sides, I done had his life assured 
'gainst dis occasiom, an' I belongs ter de sas- 
siety wha' burys folks in style wid regalions. 
Dey all wears purple velvet scaffses ober dey 
shoulders an' ma'ches side de hearse. Dar ain* 
nothin' cheap an' no 'count bout dat sassiety. 
No ma'am! An' I reckons I better git right 
long and look arter it all," and Minervy, still 
wiping her eyes, hurried from the room, 
Mammy's snort of outrage unheeded, and her 
words : 

"Now what I done tole yo', baby? I tells yo' 
dat 'oman ain' mo'n ha'f human if she is one ob 
ma own color. I 's a cullured person, but she's 
jist pure nigger, yo' hyar me?" and Mammy 
flounced from the room. 

Polly and Peggy reentered Mrs. Harold's 
room. She had collapsed upon the divan, al- 
most hysterical, and Polly looked as though 
someone had dashed cold water in her face. 
Peggy was the only one who accepted the situa- 
tion philosophically. With a resigned expres- 
sion she said: 

"That's Minervy Jones. She is one type of 
her race. Mammy is another. Now we'll see 



A DOMESTIC EPISODE 159 

what she'll buy. I'll venture to say that every 
penny she gets from Joshua's life-insurance 
will be spent upon clothes for herself and those 
children." 

"And 7 started the idea," deplored Mrs. 
Harold. 

"Oh, no, you did not. She would have 
thought of it as soon as she was over her 
screaming, only you stopped the screaming a 
little sooner, for which we ought to be grateful 
to you. She is only one of many more exactly 
like her." 

* ' Do you mean to tell me that there are many 
as heedless and foolish as she is?" demanded 
Mrs. Harold. 

"Dozens. Ask Harrison about some of 
them." 

"Well, I never saw anything like her," cried 
Polly, indignantly. "I think she is perfectly 
heartless." 

"Oh, no, she isn't. She simply can't hold 
more than one idea at a time. Just now it's the 
display she can make with her insurance money. 
They insure each other and everything insur- 
able, and go half naked in order to do so. The 
system is perfectly dreadful, but no one can 
stop them. Probably every man and woman 



160 PEGGY STEWART 

on the place knows exactly what she will receive 
and half a dozen will come forward with money 
to lend her, sure of being paid back by this in- 
surance company. It all mafces me positively 
sick, but there is no use trying to control them 
in that direction. I don't wonder Daddy Neil 
often says they were better off in the old days 
when a master looked after their well-being." 

An hour later Minervy was driving into An- 
napolis, three of her boon companions going 
with her, the "widderless orphans" being left 
to get on as best they could. She spent the en- 
tire morning in town, returning about three 
o'clock with a wagonful of purchases. Poor 
Joshua's remains were being looked after by 
the Society and would later come to Severndale. 

Mrs. Harold and the girls were sitting in the 
charming living-room when Jerome came to ask 
if Miss Peggy would speak with Minervy a 
moment. 

"Oh, do bring her in here," begged Mrs. 
Harold. 

Peggy looked doubtful, but consented, and 
Jerome went to fetch the widow. 

When she entered the room Mrs. Harold and 
the girls were sorely put to it to keep sober 
faces, for Minervy had certainly outdone her- 



A DOMESTIC EPISODE 161 

self; not only Minervy, but her entire brood 
which followed silently and sheepishly behind 
her. Can Minervy 's "mourning" be described! 
Upon her head rested a huge felt hat of the 
" Merry Widow" order, and encircling it was 
a veil of some sort of stiff material, more like 
crinoline than crape. There were yards of it, 
and so stiff that it stuck straight out behind her 
like a horse's tail. Under the brim was a white 
widow's ruche. Her waist was a black silk one 
adorned with cheap embroidery, and a broad 
belt displayed a silver buckle at least four inches 
in diameter, ornamented with a huge glass car- 
buncle at least half the buckle's size. On her 
own huge feet were a pair of shining patent- 
leather shoes sporting big gilt buckles, and each 
child wore patent-leather dancing pomps. 

"Why, Minervy," cried Peggy, really dis- 
tressed, "How could you?" 

"Why'm, ain' we jist right? I thought I 
done got bargains wha' jist nachally mak' dat 
odder widow 'oman tek a back seat an' sit down. 
She didn't git no sich style when James up an 
died," answered Minervy, reproach in her tone 

and eyes* 

"But, Minervy," interposed Mrs. Harold. 
"That bright red stone in the buckle; how can 
11 



162 PEGGY STEWART 

you consider that mourning? And your veil 
shouldn't stick I mean it ought to hang down 
properly." 

Minervy looked deeply perturbed. Shifting 
from one patent-leather-shod foot to the other, 
she answered: 

"Well'm, well'm, I dare say you's had more 
spurrience in dese hyer t'ings 'n I is, but dat 
ston certain 'y did strike ma heart. But ef yo* 
say 'taint right why, pleas ma'am git a pair 
o' scissors an' prize it out, tho' I done brought 
de belt fer de sake ob dat buckle. Well, nem- 
mine. I reckons I kin keep it, an' if I ever 
marhrys agin it sho will come in handy." 

The combined efforts of Mrs. Harold, Peggy 
and Polly eventually got Minervy passably pre- 
sentable as to raiment, but there they gave up 
the obligation. 

On the following Sunday the funeral was held 
with all the ceremony and display dear to the 
African heart, but "Sis Cynthia, Mammy Lucy 
and Jerome were too occupied with domestic 
duties to attend." "I holds masef clar 'bove 
sich goin 's-on, ' ' was Mammy 's dictum. ' * When 
I dies, I 'spects ter be bur 'rid quiet an* dig- 
numfied by ma mistiss, an' no sich crazy goin's 
on as dem yonder." 



A DOMESTIC EPISODE 163 

Later Minervy and her "nine haid ob chil- 
lern" betook themselves into the town of An* 
napolis where matrimonial opportunities were 
greater, and, sure enough, before two months 
were gone by she presented herself to Peggy, 
smiling and coy, to ask: 

" Please, ma'am, is yo' got any ol' white stuff 
wha' I could use fer a bridal veil?" 

"A bridal veil?" repeated Peggy, horrified 
at this new development. 

"Yas'm, dat's what I askin' fer. Yo' see, 
Miss Peggy, dat haid waiter man at de Central 
Hotel, he done fall in love wid ma nine haid o* 
po' orphanless chillern an' crave fer ter be a 
daddy to 'em. An' Miss Peggy, honey, Johanna 
she gwine be ma bride's maid, an' does yo' 
reckon yo's got any ole finery what yo' kin giv* 
her? She's jist 'bout yo' size, ma'am." 

Johanna was Minervy 's eldest daughter. 

"Yes. I '11 get exactly what you want. ' ' cried 
Peggy, her lips set and her eyes snapping, for 
her patience was exhausted. 

Groing to her storeroom Peggy brought to 
light about three yards of white cotton net and 
a pistachio green mull gown, long since dis- 
carded. It was made with short white lace 
sleeves and low cut neck. 



164 PEGGY STEWAET 

''Here you are," she said, handing them to 
Minervy who was thrown into a state of ecstacy. 
"But wait a moment; it lacks completeness," 
and she ran to her room for a huge pink satin 
bow. "There, tell Johanna to pin that on her 
head and the harlequin ice will be complete." 

But her sarcasm missed its mark. THen 
Peggy went to her greenhouses and gathering 
a bunch of Killarney roses walked out to the 
little burial lot where the Severndale help slept 
and laying them upon Joshua's grave said 
softly : 

"You were good and true and faithful, and 
followed your light." 

NOTE The author would like to state that this episode 
actually did take place upon the estate of a friend. 



CHAPTER XT 

PLAYING GOOD SAMARITAN 

FEBRUABY had passed and March was again 
rushing upon Severndale. A cold, wild March, 
too. Perhaps because it was coming in like a 
lion it would go out like a lamb. It is nearly 
a year since we first saw Peggy Stewart seated 
in the crotch of the snake-fence talking with 
Shashai and Tzaritza, and in that year her 
whole outlook upon life has changed. True it 
was then later in the month and spring filled 
the air, but a few weeks make vast changes in a 
Maryland springtide. And Daddy Neil was 
coming home soon! Coming in time for an 
alumni meeting during June week at the Acad- 
emy, and Mr. Harold was coming also. These 
facts threw every one at Severndale, as well as 
Mrs. Harold and Polly into a flutter of antici- 
pation. But several weeks yes, three whole 
months in fact must elapse before they would 
arrive, for the ships -were only just leaving 
Guantanamo for Hampton Roads and then 

166 



166 PEGGY STEWART 

would follow target practice off the Virginia 
Capes. 

Mrs. Harold and Polly were going to run 
down to Hampton Roads for a week, to meet 
Mr. Harold, but Commander Stewart's cruiser 
would not be there. He was ordered to Nica- 
ragua where one of the periodical insurrec- 
tions was taking place and Uncle Sam's sailor 
boys' presence would probably prove salutary. 
At any rate, Neil Stewart could not be at Hamp- 
ton Roads, and consequently Peggy decided not 
to go down with her friends, though urged to 
join them. Meanwhile she worked away with 
Compadre and as March slipped by acquired 
for Severndale a most valuable addition to its 
paddock. 

It all came about in a very simple manner, 
as such things usually do. 

All through Maryland are many small farms, 
some prosperous, some so slack and forlorn 
that one wonders how the owners subsist at all. 
It often depends upon the energy and industry 
of the individual. These farmers drive into 
Annapolis with their produce, and when one 
sees the animals driven, and vehicles to which 
they are harnessed, one often wonders how the 
poor beasts have had strength to make the 



PLAYING GOOD SAMARITAN 167 

journey even if the vehicle has managed to hold 
together. Often there is a lively "swapping'* 
of horses at the market-place and a horse may 
change owners three or four times in the course 
of a morning. 

It so happened that Peggy had driven into 
Annapolis upon one of these market days, and 
having driven down to the dock to make inquiry 
for some delayed freight, was on her way back 
when she noticed a pair of flea-bitten gray 
horses harnessed to a ramshackle farm wagon. 
The wagon wheels were inches thick with dry 
mud, for the wagon had probably never been 
washed since it had become its present owner's 
property. The harness was tied in a dozen 
places with bits of twine, and the horses were so 
thin and apparently half-starved that Peggy's 
heart ached to see them. Pulling up her own 
span she said to Jess: 

"Oh, Jess, how can any one treat them so? 
They seem almost too weak to stand, but they 
have splendid points. Those horses have seen 
better days or I'm much mistaken and they 
come of good stock too." 

"Dey sho' does, missie," answered Jess, 
pleased as Punch to see his young mistress* 
quick eye for fine horseflesh, though it must be 



168 PEGGY STEWAKT 

admitted that the fine qualities of these horses 
were well disguised, and only a connoisseur 
could have detected them. 

As they stood looking at the horses the owner 
came up accompanied by another man. They 
were in earnest conversation, the owner evi- 
dently protesting and his companion expostu- 
lating. Something impelled Peggy to tarry, 
and without seeming to do so, to listen. She 
soon grasped the situation: The horses' owner 
owed the other man some money which he was 
unable to pay. The argument grew heated. 
Peggy was unheeded. The upshot was the 
transfer of ownership of one of the span of 
horses to the other man, the new owner helping 
unharness the one chosen, its mate looking on 
with surprised, questioning eyes, as though 
asking why he, too, was not being unharnessed. 
The new owner did not seem over-pleased with 
his bargain either (he lacked Peggy's discern- 
ment) and vented his ill-temper upon the poor 
horse. Presently he led him away, the mate 
whinnying and calling after his companion in a 
manner truly pathetic. 

"Quick, Jess," ordered Peggy, "go and find 
out who that man is and where he is taking that 
horse, but don't let him suspect why." 



PLAYING GOOD SAMARITAN 169 

Jess scrambled out of the surrey, saying: 
"Yo' count on me, Miss Peggy. I's wise, I is; 
I ketches on all right." 

Peggy continued to watch. The man sat 
down upon an upturned box near his wagon, 
buried his face in his hands and seemed obliv- 
ious of all taking place around him. Presently 
the horse turned toward him and nickered ques- 
tioningly. The man looked up and reaching 
out a work-hardened hand, stroked the poor 
beast's nose, saying: 

"'Taint no use, Pepper;, he's done gone fer 
good. Every thin '& gone, and I wisht ter Gawd 
I was done gone too, fer 'taint no use. The 
fight's too hard for us." 

Just then he caught the eye of the young girl 
watching him. There was something in her 
expression which seemed to spell hope : he felt 
utterly hopeless. She smiled and beckoned to 
him. She was so used to being obeyed that his 
response was as a matter of course to her. He 
moved slowly toward the surrey, resting his 
hand upon the wheel and looking up at her with 
listless eyes. ' ' You want me, miss ? " he asked. 

Peggy said gently: 

"I couldn't help seeing what happened; I 
was right here. Please don't think me inquisi- 



170 PEGGY STEWART 

tive, but would you mind telling me something 
about your horses? I love them so, and and 
and I think yours have good blood." 

The furrowed, weatherbeaten face seemed 
transformed as he answered: 

"Some of the best in the land, miss. Some 
of the best. How did ye guess it?" 

"I did not guess it; I knew it. I raise 
horses." 

"Then you're Miss Stewart from Severn- 
dale, ain't ye?" 

"Yes, and you?" 

"I'm jist Jim Bolivar. I live 'bout five mile 
this side of Severndale. Lived there nigh on ter 
twenty year, but yo' wouldn't never know me, 
o' course, though I sometimes drives over to 
yo' place." 

"But how do you expect to drive back all that 
distance with only one horse? Did you sell the 
other, or only lend him?" 

For a moment the man hesitated. Then look- 
ing into the clear, tender eyes he said : 

"He had ter go, miss. Everything's gone 
ag'in me for over a year; I owed Steinberger 
fifty dollars; I couldn't pay him; I'd given 
Salt fer s'curity." 

"Salt?" repeated Peggy in perplexity. 



PLAYING GOOD SAMAEITAN 171 

"Yes'm, Pepper's mate. I named 'em Pep- 
per 'n Salt when they was young colts," and a 
faint smile curved the speaker's lips. Peggy 
nodded and said: 

"Oh, I see. That was clever. They do look 
like pepper and salt." 

"Did," corrected the man. "There ain't but 
one now. But Salt were worth more 'n fifty 
dollars; yes, he were." 

' ' He certainly was, ' ' acquiesced Peggy. * * Do 
you want to sell Pepper too?" 

"I'd sell my heart, miss, if I could get things 
fer Nell." 

"Who is Nell!" 

"My girl, miss. Nigh 'bout yo' age, I reck- 
ons, but not big an' healthy an' spry like yo'. 
She's ailin' most o' the time, but we's mighty 
po,' miss, mighty po'. We ain't allers been, 
but things have gone agin us pretty steady. 
Last year the hail spoilt the crops, an' oh well, 
yo' don't want ter hear 'bout my troubles." 

"I want to hear about any one's troubles if 
I can help them. How shall you get back to 
your place?" 

"Beckon I'll have ter onhitch an' ride Pep- 
per back, on'y I jist natchelly hate ter see Nell's 
face when I get thar 'thout Salt. She set sich 



172 PEGGY STEWAET 

store by them horses, an' they'd f oiler her any- 
wheres. I sort ter hate ter start, miss." 

"Listen to me," said Peggy. "What does 
Nell most need?" 

' ' Huh ! Most need ? Most need f Well if I 
started in fer ter tell what she most needs I 
reckon you'd be scart nigh ter death. She needs 
everythin' an' seems like I can't git nothin'." 

"Well what did you hope to get for her?" 
asked Peggy, making a random shot. 

"Why she needs some shoes pretty bad, an* 
the doctor said she ought ter have nourishin* 
things ter eat, but, somehow, we can't seem ter 
git many extras." 

"Will you go into the market and get what 
you'd like from Mr. Bodwell? Here, give him 
this and tell him Miss Stewart sent you," and 
hastily taking a card from her case, Peggy 
wrote upon it : 

"Please give bearer what is needed," and 
signed her name. "Get a good thick steak and 
anything else Nell would like." 

The man hesitated. "But I ain't askin' char- 
ity, miss." 

"This is for Nell, and maybe I'll buy Pepper 
if she will sell him," flashed Peggy, with a 
radiant smile. 



PLAYING GOOD SAMARITAN 173 

"I'll do as yo' tell me, miss. Mebbe it's 
Providence. Nell always says: 'The good 
Lord'll tell us how, Dad/ an' mebbe she's 
right, mebbe she is," and worn, weary, dis- 
couraged Jim Bolivar went toward the mar- 
ket. During his absence Jess returned. 

"Dat man's a no' 'count dead beat, Miss 
Peggy. Yas'm, he is fer a fac', an' he gwine 
treat dat hawse scan'lous." 

Peggy's eyes grew dark. "We'll see," was 
all she said, but Jess chuckled. Most of the 
help at Severndale knew that look. "Jess, un- 
harness that horse and tie him behind the 
surrey," was her next astonishing order. 

"Fo J de Lawd's sake, Miss Peggy, what yo' 
bown' fer ter do? Yo* gwine start hawse- 
stealin'?" Jess didn't know whether to laugh 
or take it seriously. When Jim Bolivar re- 
turned Pepper was trying to reason out the 
wherefor of being hitched behind such a hand- 
eome vehicle as Peggy's surrey, and Jess was 
protesting : 

"But but butter," stammered Jess, "Miss 
Peggy, yo' ain' never in de roun' worl' gwine 
ter drive froo de town an' clar out ter Severn- 
dale wid dat disrep'u'ble oP hawse towin' 'long 
behime we all?" 



174 PEGGY STEWAET 

"I certainly am, and what is more, Jim Bol- 
ivar is going to sit on the back seat and hold the 
leader. He has got to get home and he can't 
without help. Mr. Bolivar, please do as I say," 
Peggy's voice held a merry note but her little 
nod of authority meant "business." 

"But look at me, miss," protested Bolivar. 
W I ain't fit ter ride with yo', no how." 

"I am not afraid of criticism," replied 
Peggy, with the little up-tilting of the head 
which told of her Stewart ancestry. "When I 
know a thing is right I do it. Steady, Comet. 
Quiet, Meteor," for the horses had been stand- 
ing some time and seemed inclined to proceed 
upon two legs instead of four. "We'll stop at 
Brooks' for the shoes, then we'll go around to 
Dove's; I've a little commission for him." 

"Yas'm, yas'm," nodded Jess. 

The shoes were bought, Peggy selecting them 
and giving them to Bolivar with the words : "It 
will soon be Easter and this is my Easter gift 
to Nellie, with my love, ' ' she added with a smile 
which made the shoes a hundred-fold more 
valuable. 

Then off to the livery stable. 

"Mr. Dove, do you know a man named Stein- 
berger?" 



PLAYING GOOD SAMAEITAN 175 

"I know an old skinflint by that name," cor- 
rected Dove. 

""Well, you are to buy a horse from him. 
Seventy-five dollars ought to be the price, but a 
hundred is available if necessary. But do your 
best. The horse's name is Salt yes that is 
right," as Dove looked incredulous, ''and he is 
a flea-bitten gray mate to this one behind us. 
Steinberger bought him today, and I want you 
to beat him at his own game if you can, for he 
has certainly beaten a better man." 

"You count on me, Miss Stewart, you count 
on me. Whatever you say goes with me." 

"Thank you, I'll wait and see what happens." 

Their homeward progress was slower than 
usual, for poor half-starved Pepper could not 
keep pace with Comet and Meteor. About four 
miles from Annapolis Bolivar directed them 
into a by-road which led to an isolated farm, as 
poor, forlorn a specimen as one could find. But 
in spite of its disrepair there was something of 
home in its atmosphere and the dooryard was 
carefully brushed. Turkey red curtains at the 
lower windows gave an air of cheeriness to 
the lonely place. As they drew near a hound 
came bounding out to greet them with a deep- 
throated bark, and a moment later a girl about 



176 PEGGY STEWAKT 

Peggy's age appeared at the door. Peggy 
thought she had never seen a sweeter or a sad- 
der face. She was fair to transparency with 
great questioning blue eyes, masses of golden 
hair waving softly back from her face and 
gathered into a thick braid. She walked with 
a slight limp, and looked in surprise at the 
strange visitors, and her big blue eyes were full 
of a vague doubt. 

"It's all right, honey. It's all right," called 
Bolivar. "'Aint nothin' but Providence 
a-workin' out, I reckon, jist like yo' say. 

"We have brought your father and Pepper 
home. Salt is all right, Nelly. You will see 
him again pretty soon." 

"Oh, has anything happened to Salt, Dad?" 
asked the girl quickly. 

"Well, not anything, so-to-speak. Jist let 
Miss Stewart, here, run it and it'll come out all 
right. I'm bankin' on that, judgin' from the 
way she's done so far. She's got a head a mile 
long, honey, she has, an' has mine beat ter a 
frazzle. Mine's kind o' wore out I reckon, an* 
no 'count, no more. Come long out an' say 
howdy. ' ' 

Nelly Bolivar came to the surrey and smiling 
up into Peggy's face, said: 



PLAYING GOOD SAMARITAN 177 

"Of course I know who you are, everybody 
does, but I never expected to really, truly know 
yon, and I'm a right proud girl to shake hands 
with you," and a thin hand, showing marks of 
toil, was held to Peggy. There was a sweet 
dignity in the act and words. 

Peggy took it in her gloved one, saying: 

"I didn't suspect I was so well known. For 
a quiet girl I'm beginning to know a lot of peo- 
ple. But I must go now, it is getting very late. 
Your father is going to bring Pepper over to 
see me soon and maybe he will bring you, too. 
He has such a lot to tell you that I'll not delay 
it a bit longer. Good-bye, and remember a lot 
of pleasant things are going to happen," and 
with the smile which won all who knew her, 
Peggy drove away. 

If people's right ears burn when others are 
speaking kindly of them, Peggy's should have 
burned hard that evening, for Nelly Bolivar 
listened eagerly as her father told of the after- 
noon's experiences and Peggy 's part in them. 

Two days later Salt was delivered at Severn- 
dale. Dove had been as good as his word. 
Shelby gave him one glance and said : 

"Well, if some men knew a hoss as quick as 
that thar girl does, there'd be fewer no 'count 

12 



178 PEGGY STEWART 

beasts in the world. Put him in a stall and tell 
Jim Jarvis I want him to take care of him as if 
he was the Emperor. I know what I'm saying 
an* Miss Peggy knows what she's a-doin', an' 
that's more 'n I kin say for most women-folks." 

So Salt found himself in the lap of luxury 
and one week of it so transformed him that at 
the end of it poor Pepper would hardly have 
known his mate. Yet with all the care be- 
stowed upon him the poor horse grieved for hia 
mate, and never did hoof-beat fall upon the 
ground without his questioning neigh. 

Peggy visited him every day and was touched 
by his response to her petting ; it showed what 
Nelly had done for him. But she was quick to 
understand the poor creature's nervous watch- 
ing for his lost mate, and evident loneliness. 
At length she had him turned into the paddock 
with the other horses, but even this failed to 
console him. He stood at the paling looking 
down the road, again and again neighing hia 
call for the companion which failed to answer. 
Peggy began to wonder what had become of 
Jim Bolivar. Two more weeks passed. Mrs. 
Harold and Polly had returned from Old Point 
and upon a beautiful April afternoon Polly and 
were out on the little training track 



PLAYING GOOD SAMABITAN 179 

where Polly, mounted upon Silver Star, was 
taking her first lesson in hurdles ; a branch of 
her equestrian education which thus far had 
not been taken up. 

Star was beautifully trained, and took the low 
hurdles like a lapwing, though it must be con- 
fessed that Polly felt as though her head had 
snapped off short the first time he rose and 
landed. 

"My gracious, Peggy, do you nearly break 
your neck every time you take a fence?" she 
cried, settling her hat which had flopped down 
over her face. 

"Not quite," laughed Peggy, skimming over 
a five-barred hurdle as though it were five 
inches. "But, oh, Polly, look at Salt! Look 
at him! He acts as though he'd gone crazy," 
she cried, for the horse had come to the fence 
which divided his field from the track and was 
neighing and pawing in the most excited man- 
ner, now and again making feints of springing 
over. 

"Why I believe he would jump if he only 
knew how," answered Polly eagerly. 

"And / believe he does know how already," 
and Peggy slipped from Shashai to go to the 
fence. Just then, however, the sound of an 



180 PEGGY STEWART 

approaching vehicle caught her ears, and the 
next instant Salt was tearing away across the 
field like a wild thing, neighing loudly with 
every bound, and from the roadway came the 
answering neigh for which he had waited so 
long, and Pepper came plodding along, striving 
his best to hasten toward the call he knew and 
loved. But Pepper had not been full-fed with, 
oats, corn and bran-mashes, doctored by a 
skilled hand, or groomed by Jim Jarvis, as Salt 
had been for nearly four blissful weeks, and an 
empty stomach is a poor spur. But he could 
come to the fence and rub noses with Salt, and 
Peggy and Polly nearly fell into each other's 
arms with delight. 

"Oh, doesn't it make you just want to cry to 
see them?" said Polly, half tearfully. 

"They shan't be separated again," was 
Peggy's positive assertion. "How do you do, 
Mr. Bolivar? Why, Nelly, have you been ill?" 
for the girl looked almost too sick to sit up. 

"Yes, Miss Peggy, that's why Dad couldn't 
come sooner. He had to take care of me. He 
has fretted terribly over it too, because " 

"Now, now! Tut, tut, honey. Never mind, 
Miss Peggy don't want to hear nothin' 'bout 
us." 



PLAYING GOOD SAMARITAN 181 

"Yes she does, too, and Nelly will tell us. 
She is coining right up to the house with us 
this is my friend Miss Polly Howland, Nelly- 
Nelly Bolivar, Polly and while you go find 
Shelby, Mr. Bolivar, and tell him I say to take 
oh, here you are, Shelby. This is Mr. Bolivar. 
Please take him up to your cottage and take 
good care of him, and give Pepper the very best 
feed he ever had. Then turn him out in the 
pasture with Salt. We will be back again in 
an hour to talk horse just as fast as we can, 
and don't forget what I told you about Pepper's 
points.' 9 

"I won't, Miss Peggy, but I ain't got to open 
more'n half an eye no how." 

Peggy laughed, then slipping her arm through 
Nelly's, said: 

"Come up to the house with us. Mammy 
will know what you need to make you feel 
stronger, and you are going to be Polly's and 
my girl this afternoon." 

Quick to understand, Polly slipped to Nelly's 
other side, and the two strong, robust girls, 
upon whom fortune and Nature had smiled so 
kindly, led their less fortunate little sister to 
the great house. 



CHAPTER XII 
THE SPICE OF PEPPER AND SALT 

ABOUT an hour later the girls were back at 
the paddock, Nelly's face alight with joy, for 
it had not taken good old Mammy long to see 
that the chief cause of Nelly's lack of strength 
was lack of proper nourishment, and her skilled 
old hands were soon busy with sherry and raw 
eggs as a preliminary, to be followed by one of 
Aunt Cynthia's dainty little luncheons ; a lunch- 
eon composed of what Mammy hinted "mus' be 
somethin' wha' gwine fer ter stick ter dat 
po' chile's ribs, 'case she jist nachelly half- 
starved." 

Consequently, the half-hour spent in partak- 
ing of it did more to put new life in little Nelly 
Bolivar than many days had done before, and 
there was physical strength and mental spirit 
also to sustain her. 

The old carryall still stood near the training 
track and saying: 

"Now you sit in there and rest while Polly 

182 



SPICE OF PEPPEE AND SALT 183 

and I do stunts for your amusement," Peggy 
helped Nelly into the seat. 

"I feel just like a real company lady," said 
Nelly happily, as she settled herself to watch 
the girls whom she admired with all the ardor 
of her starved little soul. 

"You are a real company lady," answered 
Peggy and Polly, "and we are going to enter- 
tain you with a sure-enough circus. All you've 
got to do is to applaud vigorously no matter 
how poor the show. Come on, Polly," and 
springing upon their horses, which had mean- 
time been patiently waiting in the care of Bud, 
off they raced around the track, Nelly watching 
with fascinated gaze. 

Meanwhile Pepper and Salt had been rejoic- 
ing in their reunion, Salt full of spirit and 
pranks as the result of his good care, and poor 
Pepper, for once full-fed, wonderfully "chir- 
kered" up in consequence, though in sharp con- 
trast to his mate. 

As Peggy and Polly cavorted around the 
track, racing, jumping and cutting all manner 
of pranks, Salt's attention to his mate seemed 
to be diverted. The antics of Star and Shashai, 
unhampered, happy and free as wild things, 
seemed to excite him past control. Again and 



184 PEGGY STEWART 

again he ran snorting toward the paling, turn- 
ing to whinny an invitation to Pepper, but, even 
with his poor, half-starved stomach for once 
well-filled, Pepper could not enthuse as his mate 
did ; one square meal a year cannot compensate 
for so many others missed, and bring about 
miracles. 

Around and around the track swept the girls, 
taking hurdles, and cutting a dozen antics. At 
length Peggy, who had been watching Salt, 
stopped, and saying to Polly : 

"I'm going to try an experiment," she 
slipped from Shashai's back. Going to the 
fence she vaulted the four-foot barrier as easily 
as Shashai would have skimmed over six. Salt 
came to her at once, but Pepper hesitated. It 
was only momentary, for soon both heads were 
nestling confidingly to her. She was never 
without her little bag of sugar and a lump or 
two were eagerly accepted. Then going to 
Salt's side she crooned into his ear some of her 
mysterious "nightmare talk," as Shelby called 
it. It was a curious power the girl exercised 
over animals almost hypnotic. Salt nozzled 
and fussed over her. Then saying : 

"Steady, boy. Steady." She gave one of 
her sudden springs and landed astride his back, 



SPICE OP PEPPER AND SALT 185 

saddleless and halterless. He gave a startled 
snort and tore away around the paddock. Polly 
was now used to any new departure, but Nelly 
gave a little shriek and clasped her hands. 
"She is all right, don't be frightened," smiled 
Polly. "She can do anything with a horse; I 
sometimes think she must have been a horse 
herself once upon a time." Nelly looked puz- 
zled, but Polly laughed. Meanwhile Peggy 
was talking to her unusual mount. He seemed 
a trifle bewildered, but presently struck into a 
long, sweeping run the perfect stride of the 
racer. Peggy gave a quick little nod of under- 
standing as she felt the long, gliding motion she 
knew so well. As she came around to her 
friends she reached forward and laying hold 
of a strand of the silvery mane, said softly: 
"Who ooa. Steady." What was it in the 
girl's voice which commanded obedience? Salt 
stopped close to his mate and began to rub 
noses with him as though confiding a secret. 

"Bud," commanded Peggy, "go to the stable 
and fetch me a snaffle bridle." The bridle was 
brought and carefully adjusted. 

"Come, Salt, now we will put it to the test; 
those flank muscles mean something unless I'm 
mistaken. ' ' 



186 PEGGY STEWAET 

During all this Shelby and Bolivar had come 
up to the paddock and stood watching the girl. 

" Ain't she jist one fair clipper?" asked 
Shelby, proudly. "Lord, but that girl's worth 
about a dozen of your ornery kind. She's a 
thoroughbred all through, she is." 

"Well, I ain't never seen nothin' like that, 
fer a fact, I ain't. I knowed them was good 
horses, but, well, I didn't know they was saddle 
horses." 

"They've more'n saddle horses, man, an' I'm 
bettin' a month's wages your eyes '11 fair pop 
out inside five minutes. I know her ways. I 
larned 'em to her, some on 'em, at least but 
most was born in her. They has ter be. There's 
some things can't be I'arnt, man." 

Once more Peggy started, this time her mount 
showing greater confidence in her. At first 
they loped lightly around the paddock, poor old 
Pepper alternately following, then stopping to 
look at his mate, apparently trying to reason it 
all out. Gradually the pace increased until 
once more Salt swept along in the stride which 
from time immemorial has distinguished racing 
blood. The fifth time around the broad field, 
Peggy turned him suddenly and making straight 
for the paling, cried in a ringing voice: 



SPICE OF PEPPER AND SALT 187 

"On! On! Up Over!" 

The horse quivered, his muscles grew tense, 
then there was a gathering together of the best 
in him and the fence was taken as only running 
blood takes an obstacle. 

Then her surprise came : 

Pepper meantime seemed to have lost his 
wits. As Salt neared the fence, the mate who 
for years had plodded beside him began to tear 
around and around the field, snorting, whinny- 
ing and giving way to the wildest excitement. 
As Salt skimmed over the fence Pepper's de- 
corum fled, and with a loud neigh he tore after 
him, made a wild leap and cleared the barrier 
by a foot, then startled and shaken from his 
unwonted exertion, he stood with legs wide 
apart, trembling and quivering. 

In an instant Peggy had wheeled her mount 
and was beside the poor frightened creature; 
frightened because his blood had asserted itself 
and he had literally outdone himself. Slipping 
from Salt's back she tossed her bridle to Shelby 
who had hurried toward her, and taking Pep- 
per's head in her arms petted and caressed him 
as she would have petted and caressed a child 
which had made a superhuman effort to per- 
form some seemingly impossible act. 



188 PEGGY STEWART 

" Nelly, Nelly, come here. Come. He will 
know your voice so much better than mine," 
she called, and Nelly scrambled out of the 
wagon as quickly as possible, crying: 

"Why, Miss Stewart, hoiv did you do it. Why 
we never knew they were so wonderful. Oh, 
Dad, did you know they could jump and run 
like that?" 

"I knew they come o* stock that had run, an* 
jumped like that, but I didn't know all that 
ginger was in 'em. No I did not. It took Miss 
Stewart fer ter find that out, an' she sure has 
found it. Why, Pepper, old hoss," he added, 
stroking the horse's neck, "you've sartin* done 
yo'self proud this day." 

Pepper nozzled and nickered over him, evi- 
dently trying to tell him that the act had been 
partly inspired by the call of the blood, and 
partly by his love for his mate. Perhaps Bol- 
ivar did not interpret it just that way, but 
Peggy did. 

"Mr. Bolivar, I know Nelly loves Pepper and 
Salt, but I'd like to make you an offer for those 
horses just the same. I knew when I first saw 
them that they had splendid possibilities and 
only needed half a chance. You need two 
strong, able work-horses for your farm these 



SPICE OF PEPPER AND SALT 189 

horses are both too high-bred for such work, 
that you know as well as I do so I propose 
that we make a sensible bargain right now. We 
have a span of bays; good, stout fellows six 
years old, which we have used on the estate. 
They shall be yours for this pair with one hun- 
dred and twenty-five dollars to boot. Salt and 
Pepper are worth six hundred dollars right 
now, and in a little while, and under proper care 
and training, will be worth a good deal more. 
Shelby will bear me out in that, won't you?" 

"I'd be a plumb fool if I didn't, miss," was 
Shelby's reply, and Peggy nodded and re- 
sumed: "I have paid seventy-five dollars for 
Salt, adding to that the one-twenty-five and 
the span, which I value at four hundred, would 
make it a square deal, don't you think so?" 

Bolivar looked at the girl as though he 
thought she had taken leave of her wits. "One 
hundred and twenty-five dollars, and a span 
worth four hundred for a pair of horses which 
a month before he would have found it hard to 
sell for seventy-five each? well, Miss Stewart 
must certainly be crazy." Peggy laughed at 
his bewilderment. 

"I'm perfectly serious, Mr. Bolivar," she 
said. 



190 PEGGY STEWAET 

"Yas'm, yas'm, but, my Lord, miss, I ain't 
seen that much money in two year, and your 
horses I ain't seen 'em, and I don't want ter; 
if you say they're worth it that goes, but but 
well, well, things has been sort o' tough- 
sort o* tough," and poor, tired, discouraged 
Jim Bolivar leaned upon the fence and wept 
from sheer bodily weakness and nervous ex- 
haustion. 

Nelly ran to his side to clasp her arms about 
him and cry: 

"Dad! Dad! Poor Dad. Don't! Don't! It's 
all right, Dad. We won't worry about things. 
God has taken care of us so far and He isn't 
going to stop." 

"That ain't it, honey. That ain't it," said 
poor Bolivar, slipping a trembling arm about 
her. "It's it's oh, I can't jist rightly say 
what 'tis." 

"Wall by all that's great, 7 know, then," ex- 
claimed Shelby, clapping him on the shoulder. 
"/ know, 'cause I've been there: It's bein' jist 
down, out an' discouraged with every thin' and 
not a blame soul fer ter give a man a boost 
when he needs it. I lived all through that kind 
o' thing afore I came ter Severndale, an' 'taint 
a picter I like fer ter dwell upon. No it ain't, 



SPICE OF PEPPER AND SALT 191 

an' we're goin' ter bust yours ter smithereens 
right now. You don't want fer ter look at it 
no longer." 

"No I don't, I don't fer a fact," answered 
Bolivar, striving manfully to pull himself to- 
gether and dashing from his eyes the tears 
which he felt had disgraced him. 

Peggy drew near. Her eyes were soft and 
tender as a doe's, and the pretty lips quivered 
as she said: 

"Mr. Bolivar, please don't try to go home 
tonight. Shelby can put you up, and Nelly 
shall stay with me. You are tired and worn out 
and the change will do you good. Then you 
can see the horses and talk it all over with 
Shelby, and by tomorrow things will look a lot 
brighter. And Nelly and I will have a little talk 
together too." 

"I can't thank ye, miss. No, I can't. There 
ain't no words big nor grand enough fer ter do 
that. I ain't never seen nothin' like it, an* 
yo've made a kind o' heaven fer Nelly. Yes, 
go 'long with Miss Peggy, honey. Ye ain't 
never been so looked after since yo' ma went 
on ter Kingdom Come." He kissed the deli- 
cate little face and turning to Shelby, said : 

"Now come on an' I'll quit actin' like a fool." 



192 PEGGY STEWAET 

" There's other kinds o' fools in this world," 
was Shelby's cryptic reply. ''Jim," he called, 
"look after them horses," indicating Pepper 
and Salt, and once more united, the two were 
led away to the big stable where their future 
was destined to bring fame to Severndale. 

Bolivar went with Shelby to his quarters, and 
their interest in riding having given way to the 
greater one in Nelly, the girls told Bud to take 
their horses back to the stable. From that 
moment, Nelly Bolivar's life was transformed. 
The following day she and her father went back 
to the little farm behind the well conditioned 
span from Severndale, and a good supply of 
provisions for all, for Shelby had insisted upon 
giving them what he called, "a good send off" 
on his own account, and enough oats and corn 
went with Tom and Jerry, as the new horses 
were named, to keep them well provisioned for 
many a day. 

"Jist give 'em half a show an' they'll earn 
their keep," advised Shelby. "I'll stop over 
before long and lend a hand gettin' things ship- 
shape. I know they're boun' ter get out o* 
kilter when yo' don't have anybody ter help. 
One pair o' hands kin only do jist so much no 
matter how hard they work. Good luck." 



SPICE OF PEPPER AM) SALT 193 

From that hour Nelly was Peggy's protege. 
The little motherless girl living so close to 
Severndale, her home, her circumstances in sucb 
contrast to her own, wakened in Peggy an 
understanding of what lay almost at her door, 
and so many trips were made to the little farm- 
house that spring that Shashai and Tzaritza 
often started in that direction of their own ac- 
cord when Peggy set forth upon one of her 
outings. 

And meanwhile, over in the hospital, Dun- 
more was growing weaker and weaker as the 
advancing springtide was bringing to Nelly 
Bolivar renewed health and strength, so 
strangely are things ordered in this world, and 
with Easter the brave spirit took its flight, 
leaving many to mourn the lad whom all had so 
loved. For some time the shadow of his pass- 
ing lay upon the Academy, then spring athletics 
absorbed every one's interest and Ralph made 
the crew, to Polly's intense delight. In May 
he rowed on the plebe crew against a high school 
crew and beat them "to a standstill." Then 
came rehearsal for the show to be given by the 
Masqueraders, the midshipmen's dramatic as- 
sociation, and at this occurred something which 
would have been pronounced utterly impossible 

13 



194 PEGGY STEWART 

had the world's opinion been asked. The show 
was to be given the last week in May. 

Mr. Harold and Mr. Stewart would arrive a 
few days before, each on a month's leave. As 
Happy was one of the moving spirits of the 
show, he was up to his eyes in business. Clever 
in everything he undertook, he was especially 
talented in music, playing well and composing 
in no mediocre manner. He had written prac- 
tically all the score of the musical comedy to be 
given by the Masqueraders, and among other 
features, a whistling chorus. 

Now if there was one thing Polly could do it 
was whistle. Indeed, she insisted that it was 
her only accomplishment and many a happy 
little impromptu concert was given in Middies' 
Haven with Happy's guitar, Shortie's mandolin 
and Durand's violin. 

Of course, all the characters in the play were 
taken by the boys, many of them making per- 
fectly fascinating girls, but when the whistling 
chorus was written by Happy, Polly was no 
small aid to him, and again and again this 
chorus was rehearsed in Middies' Haven, some- 
times by a few of the number who would com- 
pose it, and again by the entire number; the 
star performer being a little chap from Ralph's 



SPICE OF PEPPEE AND SALT 195 

class whose voice stil] held its boyish treble 
and whose whistle was like a bird's notes. Na- 
turally, Polly had learned the entire score, for 
one afternoon during the past autumn while the 
girls were riding through the beautiful wood- 
lands near Severndale, Polly had whistled an 
answer to a bob-white's call. So perfect had 
been her mimicry that the bird had been com- 
pletely deceived and answering repeatedly, had 
walked almost up to Silver Star's feet. Peggy 
was enraptured, and then learned that Polly 
could mimic many bird calls, and whistle as 
sweetly as the birds themselves. Peggy had 
lost no time in making this known to the boys, 
much to Polly's embarrassment, but the out- 
come had been the delightful little concerts, and 
Happy had made the various bird notes the 
theme of his bird chorus. It was a wonder- 
fully pretty thing and bound to make a big hit, 
so all agreed. Consequently, little Van Nos- 
trand had been drilled until he declared he 
woke himself up in the night whistling, and so 
the days sped away. Mr. Harold and Daddy 
Neil had arrived and the morning of the Mas- 
queraders' show dawned. In less than twelve 
hours the bird chorus would be on the stage 
whistling Polly's bird notes. Then Wharton 



196 PEGGY STEWART 

Van Nostrand fell ill with tonsilitis and was 
packed off to the hospital ! 

Happy was desperate. Who under the sun 
would take his part? There was not another 
man whose voice was like Wharton's. Happy 
flew about like a distracted hen, at length rush- 
ing to Mrs. Harold and begging her to give him 
just ten minutes private interview. 

"Why, what under the sun do you want, 
Happy ?" she asked, going into her own room 
and debarring all the others whose curiosity 
was at the snapping point. When they emerged 
Happy's face was brimful of glee, but Mrs. 
Harold warned: 

"Mind the promise is only conditional: If 
Polly says 'yes' well and good, but if you let 
the secret out you and I will be enemies for- 
evermore." 



CHAPTER 



THE MASQUERADERS' SHOW 

IT was the night of the Masqueraders' Show. 
The auditorium was packed, for Annapolis was 
thronged with the relatives of the graduating 
class as well as hundreds of visitors. 

Among others were Polly Rowland's mother, 
her married sister Constance, and her brother- 
in-law, Harry Hunter, now an ensign. They 
had been married at Polly's home in Montgen- 
tian, N. J., almost a year ago. Harry Hunter 
had graduated from the Academy the year 
Happy and his class were plebes, and had been 
the two-striper of the company of which 
Wheedles was now the two-striper. His return 
to Annapolis with his lovely young wife was the 
signal for all manner of festive doings, and it 
need hardly be added that Mrs. Harold's party 
had a row of seats which commanded every 
corner of the stage. Mr. Stewart and Peggy 
were of the party, of course, and anything 
radiating more perfect happiness than Peggy's 

197 



198 PEGGY STEWART 

face that night it would have been hard to find. 
"Was not Daddy Neil beside her, and in her 
private opinion the finest looking officer pres- 
ent? Again and again as she sat next him she 
slipped her hand into his to give it a rapturous 
little squeeze. Nor was "Daddy Neil" lacking 
in appreciation of the favors of the gods. The 
young girl sitting at his side, in spite of her 
modesty and utter lack of self-consciousness, 
was quite charming enough to make any par- 
ent's heart thrill with pride. With her excep- 
tional tact, Mrs. Harold had won Harrison's 
favor, Harrison pronouncing her: "A real, 
born lady, more like your own ma than any one 
you've met up with since you lost her; she was 
one perfect lady if one ever lived." 

It had been rather a delicate position for Mrs. 
Harold to assume, that of unauthorized guar- 
dian and counsellor to this young girl who had 
come into her life by such an odd chance, but 
Mrs. Harold seemed to be born to mother all the 
world, and subtly Harrison recognized the fact 
that Peggy was growing beyond her care and 
guidance, and the thousand little amenities of 
the social world in which she would so soon 
move and have her being. For more than a 
year this knowledge had been a source of dis- 



THE MASQUERADERS' SHOW 199 

quietude to the good soul who for eight years 
had guarded her little charge so faithfully, and 
she had often confided to Mammy Lucy : 

"That child is getting clear beyond me. She's 
growin' up that fast it fair takes my breath 
away, and she knows more right now in five 
minutes than I ever knew in my whole life, 
though 'twouldn't never in this world do to let 
her suspicion it." 

Consequently, once having sized up Mrs. Har- 
old, and fully decided as the months rolled by 
that she "weren't no meddlesome busybody, 
a-trying to run things, ' ' she was only too glad 
to ask her advice in many instances, and 
Peggy's toilet this evening was one of them. 
Poor old Harrison had begun to find the in- 
tricacies of a young girl's toilet a trifle too com- 
plex for her, and had gone to Mrs. Harold for 
advice. The manner in which it was given 
removed any lingering vestige of doubt re- 
maining in Harrison's soul, and tonight Peggy 
was a vision of girlish loveliness in a soft pink 
crepe meteor made with a baby waist, the round 
neck frilled wit^ the softest lace, the little 
puffed sleeves edged with it, and a "Madam 
Butterfly" sash and bow of the crepe encircling 
her lithe waist. Her hair was drawn loosely 



200 PEGGY STEWART 

back and tied a la pompadour with a bow of 
pink satin ribbon, another gathering in the rich, 
soft abundance of it just below the neck. 

By chance she sat between Mrs. Howland 
and her father, Mrs. Harold was next Mrs. 
Howland, with Mr. Harold, Constance and Snap 
just beyond, and Polly at the very end of the 
seat, though why she had slipped there Mrs. 
Howland could not understand. 

Peggy had instantly been attracted to Mrs. 
Howland and had fallen in love with Constance 
as only a young girl can give way to her admi- 
ration for another several years her senior. 
But there was nothing of the foolish "crush" in 
her attitude: it was the wholesome admiration 
of a normal girl, and Constance was quick to 
feel it. Mrs. Howland was smaller and daintier 
than Mrs. Harold, though in other ways there 
was a striking resemblance between these two 
sisters. Mrs. Harold, largely as the result of 
having lived among people in the service, was 
prompt, decisive of action, and rather com- 
manding in manner, though possessing a most 
tender, sympathetic heart. Mrs. Howland, 
whose whole life had been spent in her home, 
with the exception of the trips taken with her 
husband and children when they were young, 



THE MASQUER ADEES' SHOW 201 

for she had been a widow many years, had a 
rather retiring manner, gentle and lovable, and, 
as Peggy thought, altogether adorable, for her 
manner with Polly was tenderness itself, and 
Polly's love for her mother was constantly man- 
ifested in a thousand little affectionate acts. 
She had a little trick of running up to her and 
half crying, half crooning: 

"Let me play cooney-kitten and get close," 
and then nestling her sunny head into her 
mother's neck, where the darker head invari- 
ably snuggled down against it and a caressing 
hand stroked the spun gold as a gentle voice 
said: 

"Mother's sun-child. The little daughter 
who helps fill her world with light." Polly 
loved to hear those words and Peggy thought 
how dear it must be to have some claim to such 
a tender love and know that one meant so much 
to the joy and happiness of another. 

Mrs. Harold had written a great deal of 
Peggy's history to this sister, so Mrs. Howland 
felt by no means a stranger to the young girl 
beside her, and her heart was full of sympathy 
when she thought of her lonely life in spite of 
all this world had given her of worldly goods. 

Meantime the little opera opened with a dash- 



202 PEGGY STEWART 

ing chorus, a ballet composed, apparently, of 
about fifty fetching young girls, gowned in the 
most up-to-date costumes, wearing large pic- 
ture hats which were the envy of many a real 
feminine heart in the audience, and carrying 
green parsols with long sticks and fascinating 
tassles. Oh, the costumer knew his business 
and those dainty high-heeled French slippers 
seemed at least five sizes smaller than they 
really were as they tripped so lightly through 
the mazes of the ballet. But alack ! the illusion 
was just a trifle dispelled when the ballet-girls 
broke into a rollicking chorus, for some of those 
voices boomed across the auditorium with an 
undoubtable masculine power. 

Nevertheless, the ballet was encored until the 
poor dancers were mopping rouge-tinged per- 
spiration from their faces. One scene followed 
another in rapid order, all going off without a 
hitch until the curtain fell upon the first act, 
and during the interval and general bustle of 
friend greeting friend Polly and Mrs. Harold 
disappeared. At first, Mrs. Rowland was not 
aware of their absence, then becoming alive to 
it she asked: 

"Connie, dear, what has become of Aunt 
Janet and Polly?" 



"I am sure I don't know, mother. They were 
here only a moment ago," answered Constance. 

"1 saw them go off with Happy, beating it 
for all they were worth toward the wings, Car- 
issima," answered Snap, using for Mrs. How- 
land the name he had given her when he first 
met her, for this splendid big son-in-law loved 
her as though she were his own mother, and 
that love was returned in full. 

" Peggy, dear, can you enlighten us?" asked 
Mrs. Howland looking at the girl beside her, 
for her lips were twitching and her eyes 
a-twinkle. 

Peggy laughed outright, then cried contritely : 

1 1 Oh, I beg your pardon, Mrs. Howland, I did 
not mean to be rude, but it is a secret, and such 
a funny one, too; I'd tell if I dared but I've 
promised not to breathe it." 

1 'Run out an extra cable then, daughter," 
laughed Commander Stewart. 

"I think this one will hold," was Mrs. How- 
land's prompt answer, with a little pat upon 
Peggy's soft arm. " She's a staunch little 
craft, I fancy. I won't ask a single question if 
I must not." A moment later the lights were 
lowered and the curtains were rung back. The 
scene drew instant applause. It was a pretty 



1>04 PEGGY STEWART 

woodland with a stream flowing in the back- 
ground. Grouped upon the stage in picturesque 
attitudes were about forty figures costumed to 
represent various birds, and in their midst was 
a charming little maiden, evidently the only 
human being in this bird-world, and presently 
it was disclosed to the audience that she was 
held as a hostage to these bird-beings, until the 
prince of their enchanted world should be re- 
leased from bondage in the land of human 
beings and restored to them. 

"Why who in this world can that little chap 
be?" 

"I didn't know there was such a tiny mid- 
shipman in the whole brigade." 

"Doesn't he make a perfectly darling girl, 
though?" 

"Perfectly lovable, hugable and adorable," 
were the laughing comments. 

In the dim light Peggy buried her head ID 
Daddy Neil's lap, trying to smother her 
laughter. 

"You you little conspirator," he whispered. 
"I believe I've caught on." 

"Oh, don't whisper it. Don't!" instantly 
begged Peggy. "Polly would never forgive 
me for letting out the secret." 



THE MASQUER ADEKS' SHOW 205 

"You haven't. I just did a little Yankee 
guessing, and I reckon I'm not far from the 
mark." 

"Hush, and listen. Isn't it pretty?" 

It was, indeed, pretty. The captive princess, 
captured because she had learned the secret of 
the bird language, began a little plaintive 
whistling call, soft, sweet, musical as a flute; 
the perfect notes of the hermit thrush. This 
was evidently the theme to be elaborated upon 
and the chorus took it up, led so easily, so har- 
moniously and so faultlessly by the dainty little 
figure with its bird-like notes. From the her- 
mit-thrush's note to the liquid call of the wood- 
thrush, the wood-peewee, the cardinal's cheery 
song, the whip-poor-will's insistent questioning, 
on through the gamut of cat-birds, warblers, 
bob-whites and a dozen others, ran the pretty 
chorus, with its variations, the little princess* 
and her jailor birds' dancing and whistling com- 
pleting the clever theme. "When it ended the 
house went mad clapping, calling, shouting: 
"Encore! Encore!" 

And before it could be satisfied the obliging 
actors had given their chorus and ballet five 
times, and the whistlers' throats were dry as 
powder. As they left the stage for the last time 



206 PEGGY STEWART 

the little princess flung herself, into Mrs. Har- 
old's arms, gasping. 

"I know my whistle is smashed, destroyed, 
and ruined beyond repair, Aunt Janet, but oh, 
wasn't it perfectly splendid to do it for the 
boys and hear that house applaud them." 

"Them?" cried a feathered creature coming 
tip to give Polly a clap upon the back as he 
would have given a classmate. "Them! And 
where the mischief do you come in on this show- 
down? There listen to that. Do you know 
what it means? It means come out there in 
front of that curtain and get what's coming to 
you. Come on." 

"Oh, I can't! I can't! They'd recognize 
me and I wouldn't have them for worlds. Not 
for worlds ! It would be perfectly awful," and 
Polly shrank back abashed. 

"Recognized! Awful nothing! You've got 
to come out. It's part of the performance," 
and hand in hand with Happy and Wheedles the 
abashed little princess was led before the foot- 
lights to receive an ovation and enough Amer- 
ican beauty roses to hide her in a good-sized 
bower. As she started back she let fall some of 
her posies. Instantly, Wheedles was upon his 
knees, his hand pressed to his heart, and his 



THE MASQUER ADERS' SHOW 207 

eyes dancing with fun, as he handed her the 
roses. Shouts and renewed applause went up 
from the auditorium. 

"I know that is a girl. I am positive of it. 
But who can she be?" was the comment of one 
of the ladies behind Mrs. Howland. 

"Well I have an idea 7 might tell her name if 
I chose," said Mrs. Howland under her breath 
to Peggy. 

"Didn't she do it beautifully?" whispered 
Peggy, squeezing Mrs. Howland's hand in a 
rapture. "But please don't tell. Please don't." 

Mrs. Howland smiled down upon the eager 
face upraised to hers. "Do you think I am 
likely to?" she asked. 

Peggy nodded her head in negative, but be- 
fore she could say more Polly and another girl 
came walking down the aisle. Even Peggy 
looked in surprise at the newcomer, then she 
gave a little gasp. The girl was much taller 
than Polly, and rather broad shouldered for a 
girl, but strange to relate, looked enough like 
Peggy to be her twin. Mr. Stewart gave a 
startled exclamation and seemed about to rise 
from his seat. Peggy laid a detaining hand 
upon his and whispered : ' Don 't. ' ' Her father 
looked at her as though he did not know whether 



208 PEGGY STEWAET 

his wits or hers were departing. The play was 
again in progress so Polly and her companion 
took their seats next Mrs. Harold who had re- 
turned some minutes before. Polly was doing 
her best to control her laughter, but the girl 
with her was the very personification of de- 
oo rum. 

"In heaven's name who is that girl?" 
Peggy's father asked in a low voice. 

"He's he's " and Peggy broke down. 

"What?" 

"Yes I'll tell you later, but isn't it too funny 
for words?" 

"Why child she he ahem that person is 
enough like you to be your sister. Who " and 
poor puzzled Neil Stewart was too bewildered 
to complete his sentence or follow the play. 

"Yes; I've known that from the first and it 
is perfectly absurd," answered Peggy, "but I 
never realized how like me until this minute. 
But he will catch the very mischief if he is 
found out. But where did he get those clothes? 
They aren't a part of the costumes so far as I 
know." 

But there is just where Peggy's calculations 
fell down, for the dainty lingerie gown, with its 
exquisite Charlotte Corday hat had been added 



THE MASQUERADEBS' SHOW 209 

to the costumes to substitute others which had 
been ordered but could not be supplied. Con- 
sequently Peggy had not happened to see it. 

And the handsome girl? Well she certainly 
was a beauty with her dark hair, perfect eye- 
brows, flashing dark eyes and faultless teeth. 
Her skin was dark but the cheeks were mantled 
with a wonderful color. As the play was still 
in progress, she could not, of course, enter into 
conversation with Polly's friends, but her smile 
was fascinating to a rare degree. 

At length the second act ended, and Neil 
Stewart could stand it no longer. 

"Peggy, introduce me to that girl right off. 
Why why, she might be you," and Peggy 's 
father fairly mopped his brow in perturbation. 

Peggy beckoned to the new arrival who man- 
aged to slip around the aisle and come to her 
end of the seat. If she minced with a rather 
affected step it was not commented upon. Most 
people were too fascinated by her beauty to 
criticise her walk. The look which the two ex- 
changed puzzled Mr. Stewart more than ever. 
Peggy's lips were quivering as she said: 

"Miss er, Miss Leroux, I want you to know 
Mrs. Howl and and my father." 

"So delighted to," replied "Miss" Leroux, 
14 



210 PEGGY STEWART 

but at the words Mrs. Rowland gave a little 
gasp and Mr. Stewart who had risen to meet 
Peggy's friend, started as though some one had 
struck him, for the voice, even with Durand's 
best attempts to disguise it to a feminine pitch, 
held a quality which no girl's voice ever held. 

"Well I'll be I'll be why you unqualified 
scamp, who are you, and what do you mean by 
looking so exactly like my girl here that I don't 
know whether I've one daughter or two?" 
Then Durand fled, laughing as only Durand 
could with eyes, lips and an indescribable ex- 
pression which made both the laugh and him- 
self absolutely irresistible. 

The following week sped away and before 
any one quite knew where it had gone the great 
June ball was a thing of the past and the morn- 
ing had dbme which would mean the dividing 
of the ways for many. 

Happy, Wheedles, and Shortie had graduated 
and would have a month's leave. Durand was 
now a second-classman, Ralph a youngster, and 
about to start upon the summer practice cruise. 

The ships were to run down to Hampton 
Roads and then up to New London, where Mrs. 
Harold and all her party were to meet them, 
she and Mrs. Howland having taken rooms at 



THE MASQUER ADERS' SHOW 211 

the Griswold for the period the ships would be 
at New London. 

They had asked Peggy to go with them and 
when "Daddy Neil" arrived he was included in 
the invitation. 

But Daddy Neil had a plan or two of his own, 
and these plans he was not long in turning over 
with Mr. Harold to the satisfaction of all con- 
cerned, and they all decided that they "beat 
the first ones out of sight." 

As Daddy Neil was a man of prompt action 
he was not long in carrying them into effect, 
and they were nothing more nor less than a big 
house party in New London rather than the 
hotel life which had been planned. So tele- 
graph wires were kept busy, and in no time one 
of the Griswold cottages was at the disposal of 
the entire party. 



CHAPTER XIV 

OFF FOR NEW LONDON 

"Now I'm going to run this show, Harold, 
and you may just as well pipe down," rumbled 
Neil Stewart in his deep, wholesome voice. 
"Besides, I'm your ranking officer and here's 
where I prove it," he added, forcing Mr. Har- 
old into his pet Morris chair and towering above 
him, his genial laugh filling the room. 

It was the Sunday afternoon following 
graduation. Many, indeed the greater portion 
of the graduates, had left for their homes, or to 
pay visits to friends before joining their ships 
at the end of their month's leave, though some 
still lingered, their plans as yet unformed. 

Wilmot Hall was practically deserted, for 
the scattering which takes place after gradua- 
tion is hard to understand unless one is upon 
the scene to witness it. 

Mr. and Mrs. Harold, with Mr. Stewart, 
Peggy, Mrs. Howland, Constance, Snap, Polly, 

Shortie, Wheedles and Happy were gathered 

213 



OFF FOE NEW LONDON 213 

in Middies* Haven, and Neil Stewart had the 
floor. Since his return to Severndale he had 
spent more than half the time at Wilmot where 
his lodestar, Peggy, was staying with those she 
had grown to love so dearly, and where she was 
so entirely happy. Mr. Stewart had taken a 
room for June week in order to be near her, 
feeling reluctant to take her away from the 
friends who had done so much for her ; more, a 
vast deal, he felt, than he could ever repay. It 
did not take him long to see the change which 
nine months had made in this little girl of his. 

Always lovable and exceptionally capable, 
there was now the added charm which associa- 
tion with a girl of her own age had developed 
in spontaneity, and her attitude toward Mrs. 
Harold the pretty little affectionate demon- 
strations so unconsciously made revealed to 
her father what Peggy had lacked for nearly 
nine years, and he began to waken to the fact 
to which Mrs. Harold had been alive for some 
time: that without meaning to be selfish in his 
sorrow for Peggy's mother, he had been wholly 
self-absorbed, leaving Peggy to live her life in 
a little world of her own creation. 

During the past two weeks he had been put 
tkrongh a pretty severe scrutiny by Mrs. Har- 



214 PEGGY STEWAET 

old, and in spite of her prejudices she began to 
see how circumstances had conspired to evolve 
the unusual order of things for both father and 
daughter, and her heart softened toward the big 
man who, while so complete a master of every 
situation on board his own ship, was so helpless 
to cope with this domestic problem. Nor could 
she see her way clear to remedy it further than 
she had already done. It seemed to be one of 
life's handicaps. But we can not understand 
the "why" of all things in this world, and must 
leave a great deal of it to the Father of alL 
Just now it seemed as though Neil Stewart was 
the instrument of that ordering. 

Mr. Harold looked up at him and joined in 
the laugh. 

"Maybe you think I'm going to give these 
fellows a demonstration of insubordination the 
very first clip. Not on your life. Fire away. 
You have the deck." 

"Well, I've got my cottage up there in New 
London a good one too, if I can judge by all 
the hot air that has escaped concerning it. Je- 
rome and Mammy are packed off to open it up 
and make it habitable against our arrival, and 
everything's all skee and shipshape so far as 
that part of the plan is blocked out. The ship's 



OFF FOB NEW LONDON 215 

in commission but now comes the question of 
her personnel. You, Harold, and your wife 
have been good enough to act as second and 
third in command but we must have junior 
officers. Thus far the detail foots up only five ; 
just a trifle shy on numbers, and I want it to 
number, let me see, at least eleven," and he 
nodded toward the others seated about the 
room. Some looked at him in doubt. Then 
Happy said : 

"But, Mr. Stewart. I'm afraid I've got to 
beat it for home, sir." 

" Where is hornet" 

"Up the Hudson, sir." 

"That's all right. And yours?" indicating 
Shortie. 

"Vermont, sir." 

"And yours?" 

"Near Philadelphia, sir," said Wheedles. 

"All within twelve hours of New London, 
aren't they?" 

"Yes sir." 

"Very well ; that settles it. You give us ten 
days at least, and we'll do the Regatta at New 
London and any other old thing worth doing. 
Will you wire your people that you're going 
with us? 'Orders from your superior officer.' 



216 PEGGY STEWART 

Who knows but you may all hit my ship and in 
that case you may as well fall in at once." 

"Well you better believe there'll be no kick 
I beg your pardon sir I mean, I'll be de- 
lighted," stammered Happy. 

"That Western Union wire is going to fuse, 
sir," was Wheedles' characteristic response. 

"I said last time I was up at New London 
that I'd be singed and sizzled if I ever went 
again, sir, and that just goes to show 'what 
fools we mortals be'," was Shortie's quizzical 
answer. 

"Orders received and promptly obeyed. So 
far so good," was the hearty response. "Now 
to the next. Mrs. Rowland, what about you 
and your plans? We've got this little girl in 
tow all tight and fast, but you haven't put out 
a signal." 

"It all sounds most enticing, but do you know 
I have another girl to think about? She is up 
at Smith College and will graduate in one week. 
I must be there for that if I never do another 
thing. It is an event in her life and mine." 

"Hum; yes; I see; of course. We've got to 
get around that, haven't we? And I dare say 
you two think youVe got to be on deck also," 
lie added, nodding at Constance and Snap, who 



OFF FOB NEW LONDON 217 

in return nodded their reply in a very positive 
manner. 

"Are yon going to jump ship too, little cap- 
tain?" he asked, turning suddenly to Polly. 

"Oh please don't. We need you so much," 
pleaded Peggy. 

"I'd like to see Gail graduate, but oh, I do 
want to go to New London just dreadfully," 
cried Polly. 

"You would better go, dear," said Mrs. How- 
land, deciding the question for her. "You 
would have but three days at Northampton 
and they would hardly mean as much to you as 
the same number at New London. Constance, 
Snap and I will go up, and then perhaps we will 
come on to New London. I must first learn 
Gail's plans." 

"You will all come up. Every last one of 
you, Gail too ; and if Gail bears even a passing 
resemblance to the rest of her family she isn't 
going to disgrace it." 

"She's perfectly lovely, Mr. Stewart," was 
Polly's emphatic praise of her pretty, twenty- 
year-old sister. 

"Your word goes, captain," answered Mr. 
Stewart, crossing the room to where the girls 
sat upon the couch. "Gangway, please," he 



218 PEGGY STEWAET 

said, motioning them apart and seating himself 
between them. "My, but these are pretty snug 
quarters," he added, placing an arm around 
each and drawing them close to him. Peggy 
promptly nestled her head upon his shoulder. 

"My other shoulder feels lonesome," said 
Mr. Stewart, smiling into Polly's face. The 
next second the bronze head was cuddled down 
also. "That's pretty nice. Best game of 
rouge et noir ever invented," nodded Neil Stew- 
art, a happy smile upon his strong face. * ' Now 
to proceed: There are, thus far, eleven of us. 
When we capture Gail we shall have twelve. A 
round dozen. Good ! Now how to get up there 
is the next question. I've hit it! Let's make 
an auto trip of it." 

"An auto trip," chorused the others. 

"Sure thing! Why not! Look here, people, 
this is my holiday. Such a holiday as I haven't 
had in years, and at the end of it is something 
else for me. Harold knows, but he's been too 
wise to give it away. I didn't know it myself 
until I came through Washington, but well 
it's pretty good news. I didn't mean to blurt 
it out, but this is sort of a family conclave andi 
I needn't ask you all to keep it in the family; 
but up there in the Boston Navy Yard is an old 



OFF FOB NEW LONDON 219 

fighting machine of which I am to be captain 
when I get back in harness " 

"What! Oh, Daddy! Daddy! How splendid!" 
cried Peggy. "Oh, I've just got to hug you 
hard, ' ' and she smothered him in a regular bear 
hug. 

"That's better than the promotion," he said, 
his eyes shining, and his thoughts harking back 
to another impulsive young girl who had 
clasped her arms about him when he received 
his commission as lieutenant. How like her 
Peggy was growing. It would have meant a 
good deal to her could she have lived to see him 
attain his captaincy. He always recalled her 
as a young girl. It was almost impossible for 
nim to realize that were she now alive she would 
be Mrs. Harold's age, though she was consider- 
ably younger than himself when they had mar- 
ried. 

And so it was settled. Neil Stewart was to 
engage a couple of large touring cars for a 
month and in these the party was to make the 
trip to New London. A man of prompt action, 
he lost no time in putting his plan into effect, 
and the following Wednesday a merry party 
set out from Wilmot Hall. Each car carried 
six comfortablv in addition to the chauffeur. 



220 PEGGY STEWAET 

Each was provided with everything necessary 
for the long trip which they calculated would 
take about three days, and the pairing off was 
arranged to every one's satisfaction, an ar- 
rangement known to have exceptions. Mr. and 
Mrs. Harold, Happy, Shortie and Polly and 
Peggy were in one car, Mr. Stewart, Mrs. How- 
land, Snap, Constance and Wheedles in the 
other, the extra seat, Mr. Stewart said was to 
be held in reserve for Gail when Mrs. Howland 
should bring her to New London. 

None of the party ever forgot that auto ride 
through Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, 
New York and Connecticut. The weather was 
ideal, and for the men just ashore after months 
of sea-duty, and the midshipmen, just emanci- 
pated from four years of the strictest discipline 
and a most limited horizon, it was a most won- 
derful world of green things, and an endless 
panorama of beauty. 

One night was spent in Philadelphia where 
all stopped at the Aldine and went to see "The 
Balkan Princess." Another night in New York 
at the Astor with "Excuse Me" to throw every 
one into hysterics of laughter. 

And what a revelation it all was to Peggy. 
What a new world she had entered. 



OFF FOE NEW LONDON 221 

"I didn't know there could be anything like 
it," she confided to Polly, "and oh, isn't it 
splendid. But hoiv I wish I could just share it 
with everybody." 

"It seems to me you are sharing it with a 
good many bodies, Peggy Stewart. What do 
you call ten people besides yourself?" 

"Oh, I mean people who never have or see 
anything like it. Like Nelly, for instance, and 
and oh just dozens of people who seena to 
go all their lives and never have any of the 
things which so many other people have. I 
wonder why it is so, Polly? It doesn't seem 
just right, does it?" 

"I wonder if you know how many people you 
make happy in the course of a year, Peggy 
Stewart. I don't believe you have the least 
idea, but it's a pity a few of them couldn't lift 
up their voices and make it known." 

"Well, I'm right thankful they can't. It 
would be awful." 

It was a glorious June afternoon when the 
two big touring cars swept under the porte- 
cochere of the Griswold Hotel at New London, 
and attendants hurried out to assist the new 
arrivals from them. Mr. Stewart waved them 
aside and saying to his guests 



222 PEGGY STEWART 

"Wait here until I find out where that shack 
of ours is located and then we'll go right over 
to it and get fixed up as soon as possible," he 
disappeared into the hotel to return a moment 
later with a clerk. 

"This man will direct us," and presently the 
cars were rolling down toward the shore road. 
In five minutes they had stopped before a large 
bungalow situated far out on one of the rocky 
points commanding the entire sweep of the bay, 
and before them riding at anchor was the prac- 
tice squadron, the good old flagship Olympia, 
on which Commodore Dewey had fought the 
battle of Manila Bay, standing bravely out from 
among her sister ships the Chicago, the Tonopah 
and the old frigate Hartford anchored along 
the roadstead. 

"Oh, Peggy! Peggy! See them! See them! 
Don't you love them, every inch of them, from 
the fighting top to the very anchor chains? I 
do." 

"I ought to," assented Peggy, "for Dad 
loves his ship next to me I believe." 

"How could he help it?" 

They were now hurrying into the cottage 
where Jerome and Mammy were waiting to 
welcome them. A couple of servants had been 



OFF FOR NEW LONDON 223 

sent over from the Griswold to complete the 
menage with Mammy and Jerome as command- 
ers-in-chief. 

It was a pretty cottage with a broad veranda 
running around three sides of it and built far 
out over the water on the front; an ideal spot 
for a month's outing. 

Launches were darting to and from the ships 
with liberty parties, often with two or three 
cutters in tow filled with laughing, skylarking 
midshipmen. On the opposite shore where the 
old Pequoit House had once stood, was another 
landing at which many of the ships' boats, or 
shore boats, were also making landings with 
parties which had been out to visit the ships. 
The ships wore a festive air with awnings 
stretched above their quarter-decks and alto- 
gether it was an enchanting picture. 

Mammy welcomed her family with enthu- 
siasm, and Jerome with the ceremony he never 
omitted, and in less time than seemed possible 
all were settled in their spacious, airy rooms. 
Mr. and Mrs. Harold had a room looking out 
over the river, with the two girls next them, 
while Mrs. Howland, Mr. Stewart, Snap and 
Constance had rooms just beyond, the three 
boys being quartered on the floor above. 



224 PEGGY STEWART 

"Oh, Peggy, isn't it the dearest place yon 
ever saw!" cried Polly, running out on the 
balcony upon which their room gave. "And 
there's the dear old flat-iron/* the "flat-iron" 
being the name bestowed by the boys npon the 
monitor Tonopah because she set so low in the 
water and was shaped not unlike one, her tur- 
rets sticking up like bumpy handles. 

"Look, Polly! Look! Some one is wigwag 
ging on the bridge of the Olympia. Oh, Daddy 
Neil, Daddy Neil, come quickly and tell us what 
they are saying," she called into the next room. 

Neil Stewart hurried out to the balcony, 
slightly lowering his eyelids as he would have 
done at sea, a little trick acquired by most men 
who look across the water. 

"Why they are signalling us," he exclaimed. 
"That's Boynton on the bridge," mentioning 
an officer whom he knew, "and the chap sig- 
nalling is you no, no I don't mean that, I 
mean it's the chap who ought to be you, that 
Devon, Deroux, no Leroux isn't that his 
name? The fellow who rigged up in girl's 
clothes and fooled me to a frazzle. He's saying 
< what's that! Hold on Yes! * Welcome to 
New London' and ' Coming on board.' That 
means that a whole bunch will descend upon us 



OFF FOE NEW LONDON 225 

tonight I'll bet all I'm worth. Well, let 'em 
come ! Let 'em come ! The more the merrier for 
there's nothing amiss with the commissary de- 
partment. Here, Happy, Happy, come and an- 
swer that signal out yonder. I'm rusty, but 
you ought to have it down pat." 

"Aye, aye, sir," answered Happy, appearing 
at the window overhead and by some miracu- 
lous means scrambling through it and letting 
himself drop to the balcony where Mr. Stewart 
and the girls were standing. 

"Give me a towel, quick, Peggy." 

Peggy rushed for a towel and a moment later 
the funny wigwag was answering: 

"Come along. Delighted." 

And that night the bungalow was filled to 
overflowing, for not only did the boys come, but 
several officers who had known Mr. Stewart and 
Mr. Harold for years were eager to renew their 
acquaintance, and talk over old days. 

"And you've come just in time for the re- 
gatta. Going to be a big race this year. The 
men are up at Gales ferry now and look fit to a 
finish. How are you planning to see it ? " asked 
the captain of the Olympia. 

"Haven't planned a thing yet. Why we've 
only just struck our holding ground, man." 

15 



226 PEGGY STEWART 

1 ' Good, I'm glad of it. That fixes it all right. 
You are all to be my guests that day yes no 
protests. Rockhill has gone to Europe and 
left his launch at my service and she's a jim- 
dandy, let me tell you. She's a sixty-footer 
and goes through the water like a knife blade. 
You'll all come with me and we'll see the show 
from a private box." 

''Can you carry all of us?" asked Peggy in- 
credulously. 

" Every last one, little girl, and a dozen more 
if you like. So fly to the east and fly to the west 
and then invite the very one whom you love 
best," answered Captain Boynton, pinching 
Peggy's velvety cheek. 

"Oh, there are so many we love best," she 
laughed, "that we'd never dare ask them all, 
would we, Polly?" 

"Let's ask all who are here tonight," was 
Polly's diplomatic answer, "then no one can 
feel hurt." 

"Hoopla!" rose from the other end of the 
porch where Durand, Ralph, and three of the 
other boys from the ships were sitting around 
a big bamboo table drinking lemonade. 

And so the party was then and there arranged 
for New London's big day. 



CHAPTER XV 
REGATTA DAY 

PEGGY and Polly scrambled out of bed the 
morning of the Yale-Harvard crew race, to find 
all the world sparkling and cool with a stiff 
breeze from the Sound. It was a wonderful 
day and already the sight presented in the bay 
was enough to thrill the dullest soul. During 
the five days in which "Navy Bungalow," as it 
had been promptly named by the young people, 
had been occupied by the congenial party from 
Annapolis, old friendships had strengthened 
and new ones ripened, and a happier gathering 
of people beneath one roof it would have been 
hard to find. Perfect freedom was accorded 
every one, and the boys who had just graduated 
soon found their places with the older officers, 
for the transition, once the diploma is won, is a 
swift one. As passed midshipmen and ^sure 
enough" junior officers, they had an established 
position impossible during their student days 
in the Academy. 

227 



228 PEGGY STEWABT 

The boys on the practice cruise also felt a 
greater degree of liberty, and the fact that they 
were the proteges of Commander Harold and 
Captain Stewart gave them an entree every- 
where. 

To Durand the experience was not a new one, 
for he had the faculty of winning an entree al- 
most anywhere, but to Ealph and his roommate, 
Jean Paul Nicholas, as bright, merry a chap as 
ever looked frankly into one's face with a pair 
of the clearest, snappiest blue eyes ever seen, 
the world was an entirely new one and fairly 
overflowing with delightful experiences. Then, 
too, they were now youngsters instead of plebes, 
and this fact alone would have been almost 
enough to fill their cups with joy. The other 
boys who came from the ships had been second- 
classmen during the past year, but were now 
in all the glory of first-classmen, and doing 
their best to make good during the cruise 
in order to carry off some of the stripes waiting 
to be bestowed upon the efficient ones during 
the coming October. 

Tn the two weeks spent with Mrs. Harold at 
Annapolis, Mrs. Howland had learned to love 
Peggy Stewart very dearly and Mrs. Harold 
said: 



BEGATTA DAY 229 

" Madeline, you have won more from Peggy 
Stewart than you realize. She has a rarely 
sweet character, though I am forced to admit 
that she seems to have been navigating un- 
charted waters. I have never known a girl of 
her age to live such an extraordinary life and 
why she is half as lovable, charming and pos- 
sessed of so much character, is a problem I have 
been trying all winter to solve. But I rather 
dread the next few years for her unless some 
one both wise and affectionate takes that little 
clipper ship's helm. She is entirely beyond 
Harrison and Mammy now, and her father 
hasn't even a passing acquaintance with his 
only child. He thinks he has, and he loves her 
devotedly, but there's more to Peggy Stewart 
in one hour than Neil Stewart will discover in 
years at the rate of two months out of twelve 
spent with her. I think the world of the child, 
but Polly is my girl, and has slipped into Con- 
stance's place. I want you to let her stay with 
me, too. I have been so happy this winter, and 
she with me, but I wish there was someone to 
be in Peggy's home, or she could be sent to a 
good school for a year or two. Sometimes I 
think that would be the best arrangement in the 
long run." 



230 PEGGY STEWAKT 

Meanwhile Peggy was entirely unaware of 
the manner in which her future was being dis- 
cussed and she and Polly were looking forward 
to regatta day with the liveliest anticipation. 

As Peggy and Polly looked out over the bay 
and up the river that perfect morning Peggy 
cried : 

"Oh, Polly could anything be lovelier than 
this day? The sky is like a blue canopy, not a 
cloud to be seen, the air just sets one nearly 
crazy, and that blue, sparkling water makes me 
long to dive head-first into it.'* 

"Well, why not!" asked Polly. "It is only 
half past six and loads of time for a dip before 
breakfast. Let's get into our bathing suits, 
bang on the ceiling to wake up Happy, Shortie 
and Wheedles and make them stick their heads 
out of the window." 

It did not take five minutes to carry the sug- 
gestion into effect and a golf stick thumping 
"reveille" under Wheedles' bed effectually 
brought him back from dreams of Annapolis. 
Bousing out the other two he stuck a tousled 
head out of his window to be hailed by two 
bonny little figures prancing excitedly upon the 
balcony beneath him. 

"Hello, great god Sunmus," cried Polly. 



KEGATTA DAY 231 

' ' Wake tip ! Oh, but you do look sleepy. Stir 
up the others. Peggy and I are going down for 
a dip before breakfast and to judge by your 
eyes they need the sand washed out of them." 

"Awh! Whow! Oh," yawned Wheedles, 
striving vainly to keep his mouth closed and to 
get his eyes opened. Just then two other heads 
appeared. 

" What's doing? House afire!" they asked. 

"No, it's the other element water," laughed 
Peggy- "Come and get into it. That's what 
we are going to do. You may think those pink 
and blue jackets you're wearing are the pret- 
tiest things in the world we know they are 
part of your graduation ''trousseau," but bath- 
ing suits are in order just now. So put them 
on and hurry down." 

"Bet your life," was chorused as the three 
tousled heads vanished. 

The average midshipman's "shift" requires 
as a rule, about two minutes, and passed-mid- 
dies are no exception. Before it seemed pos- 
sible three bath-robed figures joined the girls, 
who had put their raincoats over their bathing 
suits, and all slipped down to the little beach 
in front of the cottage and struck out for the 
float anchored about fifty feet off shore. 



232 PEGGY STEWABT 

What a sight the bay and river presented that 
morning. Hundreds of beautiful yachts, fore- 
gathered from every part of the world, for New 
London makes a wonderful showing Regatta 
week, and flying the flags of innumerable yacht 
clubs, were crowding the roadstead. A more 
inspiring sight it would be difficult to imagine. 
Just beyond the float, and lying between the 
Olympia and Navy Bungalow, the pretty little 
naptha launch on which Captain Stewart's 
party were to be Captain Boynton's guests, 
rode lightly at anchor, her bright work reflect- 
ing the sunlight, her awning a-flutter, her signal 
pennant waving bravely. 

"I Ve got to play I'm a porpoise. Pve simply 
got to. Come on, Wheedles, nothing else will 
work off my pent-up excitement," cried Polly, 
diving off the float to tumble and turn over and 
over in the water very like the fish she named, 
for Polly's training with Captain Pennell dur- 
ing the winter had made her almost as much at 
home in the water as on land and Peggy swam 
equally well. 

While the young people were splashing about 
Mrs. Harold and Mrs. Howland came out on 
the piazza to enjoy the sight. 

For half an hour the five splashed, dove, and 



REGATTA DAY 233 

gamboled as carefree as five young seals, and 
with as much freedom, then all hurried into the 
bathhouses where Mammy and Jerome had al- 
ready anticipated their needs by hurrying down 
with a supply of necessary wearing apparel ; a 
trifling matter quite overlooked by the bathers 
themselves. 

A gayer, heartier, more glowing group of 
young people than those gathered at the break- 
fast table could not have been found in New 
London or anywhere else; certainly not at the 
Griswold where the majority of them were 
either satiated society girls whose winters had 
been spent in a mad social whirl, or the blase 
city youths who at nineteen had already found 
life "such a beastly bore." 

"Gad," cried Neil Stewart, slapping Shortie's 
broad shoulders, "but it's refreshing to find fel- 
lows of your age who can still show up such ji 
glow in their cheeks, and such a light in their 
eyes, and an enthusiasm so infectious that it 
Bets a-tingle every drop of blood in an old ker- 
foozalem like me. Hang fast to it like grim 
death, for you'll never get it back if you on 
lose it. That old school down there turn; 
out chaps who can get more out of the simpl 
life than any bunch I know of. It may be I 



234 PEGGY STEWART 

simple life in some respects, but it's got a con- 
founded lot of hard work in it all the same, and 
when you've finished that you're ready to take 
your fun, and you take it just as hard as you 
take your work, and I don't want to see a better 
bunch of men than that system shows. I was 
over at the hotel last night, talking with four 
or five chaps, younger than you fellows here, 
and I swear it made me sick: Bored to extinc- 
tion doing nothing. I'd like to take 'em on 
board for just about one month and if they 
didn't find something doing in a watch or two 
I'd know why. Keep right on having your 
fun, you and the girls yes, girls, not a lot of 
kids playing at being nerve-racked society 
women. ' ' 

* ' Hear ! Hear ! ' ' cried Glenn Harold. ' * What's 
stirred you up, old man ? ' ' 

* ' That bunch over yonder. Keep a little girl 
as long as you can Peggy, and you, Polly, hold 
your present course. Who ever charted it for 
you knew navigation all right." 

"I guess mother began it and then turned the 
job over to Aunt Janet, sir," answered Polly. 

"Well, she knew her business all right. I'm 
mighty sorry she can't be here today to see the 
race, but when she comes back from North- 



EEGATTA DAY 235 

ampton she'll bring that other girl I'm so 
anxious to know too. By George, the Howland 
crowd puts up a good showing, and they seem 
to know how to choose their messmates too, if 
I can judge by Hunter." 

"Isn't he the dearest brother a girl ever 
had?" asked Polly enthusiastically, for her 
love for her brother-in-law was a subject of 
pleasurable comment to all who knew her. 

"One of the best ever, as I hear on all sides," 
was Captain Stewart's satisfactory answer. 
"But here comes Boynton. Ahoy! Olympia 
Ahoy!" he shouted, hurrying out upon the 
piazza as a launch from the Olympia came boil- 
ing "four bells" toward Navy Bungalow's 
dock, the white clad Jackies looking particularly 
festive and Captain Boynton of the Olympia 
with Commander Star of the Chicago sitting 
aft. They waved their caps gaily and shouted 
in return. 

"Glorious day! Great, isn't it?" as the 
launch ran alongside the dock and friends 
hurried down to meet friends. 

"We came over to see how early you could 
be ready. We must get up the course in good 
season this afternoon in order to secure a 
vantage point. Mrs. Boynton wants you all- 



236 PEGGY STEWABT 

yes the .whole bunch, to come over to the Gris- 
wold for an early luncheon. Mrs. Star will be 
with her and we'll shove off right afterward. 
Now no protests," as Captain Stewart seemed 
inclined to demur. 

"All right. Your word goes. "We'll report 
for duty. What's the hour!" 

"Twelve sharp. There's going to be an all- 
fired jam in that hotel but Mrs.B. has a private 
dining-room ready for us and has bribed the 
head waiter to a degree that has nearly proved 
my ruin. But never mind. We can't see the 
Yale-Harvard race every day, and a month 
hence we '11 be up in Maine with all this fun be- 
hind us." 

That luncheon- was a jolly one. Captain 
Boynton had a daughter a little younger than 
Peggy and Mr. Star a little girl of eight. 

Promptly at two the party went down to the 
Griswold dock, gay with excitement and a holi- 
day crowd embarking in every sort of craft, all 
bound for the course up the river. The naptha 
launch had been run alongside the long Gris- 
wold pier and it did not take long for Captain 
Boynton *s party to scramble aboard. Captain 
Boynton, Captain Stewart and the girls went 
forward, some of the boys making for the bow 



EEGATTA DAY 237 

where the outlook was enongh to stir older 
and far more staid souls than any the Frolic 
carried that day. 

They cast off, and soon were making their 
fussy way in and out among the hundreds of 
launches, yachts and craft of every known 
description. 

The crew of the Frolic was a picked one, the 
coxswain, an experienced hand, as was cer- 
tainly required that day. The pretty launch 
was dressed in all her bunting, and flying the 
flag of her club. 

Through the mass of festive shipping the 
launch worked her way, guided by the steady 
hand of the man at her wheel, his gray eyes 
alert for every move on port or starboard. 

Peggy and Polly were close beside him. Cap- 
tain Stewart and Captain Boynton stood a little 
behind watching the girls, whose eager eyes 
noted every turn of the wheel. An odd light 
came into Captain Boynton 's eyes as he watched 
them. Presently he asked Peggy: 

"Do you think you could handle a launch, 
little girl?" 

"Why perhaps I could a little," answered 

Peggy modestly. 
"Why, Peggy Stewart, there isn't a girl in 



238 PEGGY STEWART 

Annapolis who can handle a launch or a sail- 
boat as you do," cried Polly, aroused to em- 
phatic protest. 

Peggy blushed, and laughingly replied: 
"Only Polly Rowland, the Annapolis Co-Ed." 

"Eh? What's that?" asked Captain Boynton. 

"Oh, Polly has had a regular course in sea- 
manship, Captain Boynton, and knows just 
everything." 

"Any more than you do, miss?" demanded 
Polly. 

"Yes, lots," insisted Peggy. 

"Well, I'll wager anything you could take 
this launch up the river as easily as the cox- 
swain is doing it," was Polly's excited state- 
ment. 

"How's that, Stewart? Have you been 
teaching your girl navigation?" 

"I hadn't a thing to do with it. It's all due 
to the good friends who have been looking after 
her while I've been shooting up targets. But 
Polly's right. She can handle a craft and so 
can this little redhead," laughed Captain Stew- 
art, pulling a lock of Polly's hair which the 
frolicsome wind had loosened. 

"By Jove, let's test it. Not many girls can 
do that trick. Coxswain, turn over the wheel 



REGATTA DAY 239 

to this yonng lady, but stand by in case you're 
needed." 

The coxswain looked a little doubtful, but 
answered: "Aye, aye, sir." 

"Oh, ought I?" asked Peggy. 

"Get busy, messmate," said Captain Boyn- 
ton. 

The next second the girl was transformed. 
Tossing her big hat aside and giving her hair a 
quick brush, she laid firm hold upon the wheel 
and instantly forgot all else. Her eyes nar 
rowed to a focus which nothing escaped, and 
Stewart gave a little nod of gratified pride and 
stepped back a trifle to watch her. Captain 
Boynton's face showed his appreciation and 
Polly's was radiant. The old coxswain mut- 
tered: "Well, well, you get on to the trick of 
that, lassie. You might have served on a man- 
o-war." 

They were now well out in the river and mak- 
ing straight for the railway bridge. Peggy 
alert and absorbed was watching the current 
as it swirled beneath the arches. "How does 
the tide set in that middle arch, coxswain?" she 
asked. 

"Keep well to starboard, miss," he answered. 

Peggy nodded, and gave an impatient little 



240 PEGGY STEWART 

gesture as a lumbering power boat, outward 
bound seemed inclined to cut across her course. 
"What ails that blunderbuss? . I have the right 
of way. Why doesn't he head inshore?" and 
she signalled sharply on her siren to the land- 
lubber evidently bent upon running down every- 
thing in sight, and wrecking the tub he was navi- 
gating. Then with a quick motion she flicked 
over her wheel and rushed by, making as pretty 
a circle around him as the coxswain himself 
could have made. 

"Holy smoke, but ye have given him the go- 
by in better shape than I could myself. "Who- 
ever taught ye?'* 

"A navy captain down at Annapolis," an- 
swered Peggy, as she shot the launch beneath 
the bridge. 

"Well, he did the job all right, all right, and 
I may as well go back and sit down. Faith, I 
thought we were as good as stove in when I 
handed over the wheel to ye, but I'm thinking 
I can learn a fancy touch or two myself." 

"Oh, no, don't go. I don't know the river, 
yon know, though I want to do my best just to 
make Daddy proud of me," answered Peggy 
modestly. 

"Well then he should be a-yellin' like them 



BEGATTA DAY 241 

crazy loons yonder on the observation train 
that's what he should," nodded the coxswain. 

Neil Stewart was not yelling, but he wasn't 
missing a thing, and presently Peggy ran the 
launch into a clear bit of water near the three- 
mile flag. 

Bringing her around, she issued her orders, 
iier mind too intent upon the business in hand 
to be conscious that all on the launch had been 
watching her with absorbing interest. Anchors 
were thrown over fore and aft in order to hold 
the launch steady against the current, then 
turning the wheel over to the admiring cox- 
fiwain, Peggy wiped her hands upon her hand- 
kerchief and holding out her right one to Cap- 
tain Boynton, said: 

"Thank you so much for letting me try. It 
was perfectly glorious to feel her respond to 
every touch and thread her way through all 
that ruck." 

"Thank me I Great Scott, child, you've dona 
more for the whole outfit than you guess. 
Stewart, my congratulations." 

Poor Peggy was overcome, but the boys and 
Polly were alternately running and praising 
her, every last one of them as proud as possible 
to call Peggy Stewart chum. 
61 



242 PEGGY STEWAET 

But out yonder the shells were already in the 
water and the electric spark of excitement had 
flashed from end to end of that long line of 
gayly bedecked expectant yachts and launches, 
as down to them floated the strains of the Yale 
boating song as it is never sung at any other 
time, and thousands of eager eyes were peering 
along the course watching for the first glimpse 
of the dots which would flash by to victory or 
defeat. 



CHAPTEE XVI 
THE RACE 

THE shells had now gotten away and were 
maneuvering to get into a good position at 
their stake boats, far beyond the sight of the 
gay company on board the Frolic, which could 
only guess how things were progressing by the 
rocketing cheers all along the line of anxiously 
waiting spectators. 

Along the course the launches of the com- 
mittee were darting thither and yonder like 
water-bugs in their efforts to keep the course 
clear. Presently arose the cries: 

"They are off! They are off! They are com- 
ing! They are coming," and far up the line tha 
puffing of the observation train could be hear* 
with uow and again an excited, hysterical toot- 
ing of the engine's whistle, as though in th 
midst of so much excitement it had to give vent 
to its own. 

Presently two dots were visible, looking 1 
more than huge water-bugs in the perspective, 

243 



244 PEGGY STEW AST 

the foreshortening changing the long sixty-foot 
shells into spidery creatures with spreading 
legs. 

The observation train following along the 
shore presented an animated, vari-colored spec- 
tacle, with its long chain of cars filled with 
beautifully gowned women and girls, and men 
in all the bravery of summer serges and white 
flannels. Banners were waving and voices 
cheering, to be caught up and flung back in 
answering cheers from the craft upon the river. 

Peggy and Polly stood as girls so often do in 
stress of excitement, with arms clasped about 
each others* waists. The boys stood in charac- 
teristic attitudes : Durand with his hands upon 
his hips lithe and straight as an arrow, but in- 
tent upon the onrushing crews ; Shortie with his 
arm thrown over Wheedles' shoulder subcon- 
sciously demonstrating the affection he felt for 
this chum from whom he would so soon be sepa- 
rated and for how long he could not tell. The 
friendships formed at the Academy are excep- 
tionally firm ones, but with graduation comes a 
dividing of the ways sometimes for years, some- 
times forever. It is a special provision of Prov- 
dence that youth rarely dwells upon this fact, 
and the feeling is invariably expressed by : 



THE EACE 245 

"So long! See you later, old man." 

Captain Stewart and Commander Harold 
were a striking evidence of this fact. They 
had not met until years had elapsed and the 
common tie of daughter and niece had re-united 
their interests. But, another strange feature; 
they had as much in common today as though 
their ways had divided only the week before. 

They now stood watching the approaching 
crews with powerful glasses, their terse com- 
ments enlightening their friends as to what was 
taking place beyond their unaided range of 
-vision. Peggy and Polly were fairly dancing 
up and down in their eagerness. 

On came the shells growing every second 
more defined in outline, although from their 
distance from the Frolic their progress seemed 
slow, only the flashing of the blades in and out 
of the water indicating that the men were not 
out for a pleasure pull, and the blue ripplee 
astern telling that sixteen twelve-foot sweeps 
were pushing that water behind them for ai 
they were worth. 

Thus far Harvard was in the lead by half a 
length, and holding her own as she drew near 
the three-mile flag, where the Frolic swung and 
tugged at her anchors. But it must be admit 



246 PEGGY STEWART 

ted that the sympathies and hopes of all in the 
Frolic centered in the Yale shell ; a Yale coach 
had drilled and scolded and "cussed" and 
petted the Navy boys to victory only a few 
weeks before, and Ealph, if no one else, felt that 
all his future rested in the ability of that Yale 
coach "to knock some rowing sense into his 
block." 

" Daddy Neil! Daddy Neil, yell at them! 
Yell!" screamed Peggy, breaking away from 
Polly to run to her father's side and literally 
shake him, as the crews drew nearer and nearer. 

"I am yelling, honey. Can't you hear me?" 

"I mean yell something that will make those 
Yale men put put oh, something into their 
stroke which will overhaul the red blades." 

"Ginger? You mean ginger? To make 'em 
pull like the very ahem. Like the very dick- 
ens? Hi! Shortie, whoop up the Siren there 
are only about a dozen of us here but give it 
hard. Give it for all you're worth when the 
Yale crew crosses our bow. You girls know it 
and so do the older women, and the crew can 
make a try at it. Now be ready. Whoop it 
up!" 

Shortie sprang into position as cheer-leader 
pro-tern and if wild gyrations and a deep voice 



THE EACE 247 

lent inspiration certainly nothing more was 
needed, for as the shells came rushing on 

1 'Hoo oo oo oo oooo ! 
* Hoo oo oo oo oooo ! 
Hoo oo oo oo oooo ! 
Hoo oo oo oo oooo ! 
Navy! Navy! Navy! 
Yale! Yale! Yale!" 

was wailed out over the water, and as npon 
many another occasion back yonder on the old 
Severn it had acted as a match to gunpowder 
to a losing cause with the Navy boys, so it now 
startled the men in the Yale boat, for they had 
many friends in the Navy School and had 
heard that yeU too often when they were in the 
lead in some sport not to know the fuU signifi- 
cance of it. It meant to the losing people: 
"Get after the other fellows and beat them in 
spite of all the imps of the lower regions!" 

The Yale men had no time to acknowledge 
the cheer; all their thoughts and energies mua 
center upon the 0-n-e, T-w-o, T-h-r-e-e, F-o-u-r 
F-i-v-e, etc. of the coxswain and his "StrokeN 
Stroke! Stroke!" But that yell had done what 
Peggy hoped and secretly prayed it would : 

The long blades flashed in and out of the 



248 PEGGY STEWAET 

water quicker and cleaner, cutting down Har- 
vard's lead, until just as they swept by the 
Frolic that discouraging discrepancy was closed 
and the two shell's noses were even. Yale had 
made a gallant spurt. 

"Up anchor and after them," ordered Cap- 
tain Boynton and the crew sprang to obey 
orders, eagerness to see the finish lending 
phenomenal speed to their fingers, and the 
Frolic was soon in hot pursuit of the shells, 
Yale now pulling a trifle ahead of her adversary 
in that last fateful mile. 

How those eight bare backs swayed back and 
forth. Harvard's beautiful, long, clean sweep 
was doing pretty work, but that Siren Yell 
seemed to have supplied the "ginger" neces- 
sary to spur on the Yale men. 

"Give 'em another! Give 'em another!" 
shouted Captain Stewart, as the Frolic came 
abreast of the Yale crew, and fairly shaking 
Captain Harold in his excitement. 

"Avast there! Give way, man! Do you 
want to yank me out of my coat?" he laughed. 

"I'll yank somebody out of something if 
those Yale boys don't pull a length ahead 
of those Johnny Harvards," sputtered Neil 
Stewart. 



THE RACE 249 

"Whoop it np fellows an& friends. The 
four N Yell for old Yale," bawled Shortie in 
order to make himself heard above the din and 
pandemonium of screaming sirens and the yell- 
ing, and in spite of it all the Yale crew heard 

"N n n n! 

A a a a ! 

V v v v I 

Y-y-y-y! 

Yale! Yale! Yale!" 

and laid their strength to their sweeps. Chests 
were heaving and breath coming in panting 
gasps, but the coxswain of the Yale crew was 
abreast of number three in the Harvard shell, 
and inch by inch the space was lengthening in 
favor of the blue-tipped blades. 

"Yale! Yale! Yale!" 

yelled the crowd as only such a crowd can yell. 
Then clear water showed between the shells and 
the four-mile flag fluttered like a blur as the 
Yale crew rushed by it. Slower plied the 
blades, shoulders which had swayed backward 
and forward in such perfect rhythm drooped, 
and one or two faces, gray from exhaustion, fell 
forward upon heaving chests. Then the row- 
ing ceased, the long oars trailed over the water, 



250 PEGGY STEWART 

as Harvard's crew slid by and came to a stand- 
still. Friends flocked to the shells to bring 
them alongside the floats where, nerve-force 
coming to the rescue of physical exhaustion, 
the big fellows managed to scramble to the 
floats and fairly hug each other as they did an 
elephantine dance in feet from which some 
stockings were sagging, and some gone alto- 
gether. But who cared whether legs were bare 
or covered? 

The Frolic came boiling up to the float at a 
rate calculated to smash things to smithereens 
if she did not slow down at short order, every- 
body yelling, everybody shouting like bed- 
lamites. 

"Best ever! Best ever! The Siren started it 
and the Four N. did the trick!" shouted Cap- 
tain Stewart, while all the others cheered and 
congratulated in chorus. 

' ' Give 'em again. Give 'em again. By Jove, 
I'm going to get up a race of my own and all 
you fellows will have to come to yell for us," 
cried Captain Boynton, and again the Navy 
Yell sent a thrill through those weary bodies 
upon the float. Then gathering together all 
the "sand" left in them they gave the old Eli 
Yell for their friends of the Navy with more 



THE EACE 251 

spirit than seemed possible after such a ter- 
rific ordeal as they had just undergone. 

And all those months of training, all that 
endless grind of hard work, for a test which had 
lasted but a few minutes, ending in a certain 
victory for one shell and a certain defeat for 
the other, since victory surely could not pos- 
sibly result for both. 

"See you all at the Griswold tonight," called 
Captain Boynton, as the launch shoved off and 
got under way. 

"Sure thing! Have our second wind by that 
time we hope," were the cheery answers. 

"Take the helm again, little skipper," or- 
dered Captain Boynton. "Your Daddy is just 
dying to have you but modesty forbids him to 
even look a hint of it." 

"May I really?" asked Peggy. 

"Get busy," and Peggy laughed delightedly 
as she took the wheel from the coxswain who 
handed it over with: 

"Now I'll take a lesson from a man-o-war's 
lassie." 

Shortie, Happy and Wheedles had now gone 
aft to "be luxurious" they said, for wicker 
chairs there invited relaxation and the ladies 
were more than comfortable. Ealph, Durand 



252 PEGGY STEWAET 

and Jean had gone forward to the wheel to 
watch the little pilot's work, Durand's expres- 
sive face full of admiration for this young girl 
who had grown to be his good comrade. 

Durand was not a "fusser," but he admired 
Peggy Stewart more than any girl he had ever 
known, and the friendship held no element of 
silly sentimentality. 

How bonny they both looked, and how strik- 
ingly alike. Could there, after all, have been 
any kindred drop of blood in their ancestry t 
It did not seem possible, yet how could two peo- 
ple look so alike and not have some kinship to 
account for it! 

Peggy was not conscious of Durand's close 
scrutiny. She was too intent upon taking the 
Frolic back to the Griswold's dock without 
being stove in, for in the homeward rush of the 
sightseers, there seemed a very good chance of 
such a disaster. 

Nevertheless, there always seems to be a 
special Providence watching over fools, and to 
judge by the manner in which some of those 
launches were being handled, that same Provi- 
dence had all it could handle that afternoon. 

They had gone about half the distance, and 
Peggy was having all she wanted to do to keep 



THE EACE 253 

dear of one particularly erratic navigator, her 
face betokening her contempt for the wooden- 
headed yonth at the helm. 

The hadly handled launch was about thirty 
feet long, and carrying a heavier load than was 
entirely safe. She was yawing about erratic- 
ally, now this way, now that. 

"Well, that gink at the helm is a mess and no 
mistake,*' was Durand's scornful comment. 
"What the mischief is he trying to do with that 
tub anyhow?" 

"Wreck it, ruin a better one, and drown his 
passengers, I reckon," answered Peggy. 

"And look at that little child. Haven't they 
any better sense than to let her clamber up on 
that rail?" exclaimed Polly, for just as the 
launch in question was executing some of its 
wildest stunts, a little girl, probably six years 
of age, had scrambled up astern and was trying 
to reach over and dabble her hands in the 
water. 

"They must be seven kinds of fools," cried 
Durand. "Say, Peggy, there's going to be 
trouble there if they don't watch out." 

But Peggy had already grown wise to the 
folly yes, rank heedlessness on board the 
other launch. If any one had the guardianship 



254 PEGGY STEWAET 

of that child she was certainly not alive to the 
duty. 

"I'm going to slow down a trifle and drop a 
little astern," she said quietly to Durand. 
" Don't say a word to any one else but stand by 
in case that baby falls overboard ; they are not 
taking any more notice of her than if she didn't 
belong to them. I never knew anything so out- 
rageous. What sort of people can they be, any 
way?" 

"Fool people," was Durand 's terse rejoinder 
and his remark seemed well merited, for the 
three ladies on board were chatteringly obliv- 
ious of the child's peril, and the men were not 
displaying any greater degree of sense. 

Peggy kept her launch about a hundred feet 
astern. They had passed the bridge and were 
nearing the broader reaches of the river where 
ferry boats were crossing to and fro, and the 
larger excursion boats which had brought 
throngs of sightseers to New London were 
making the navigation of the stream a problem 
for even more experienced hands, much less the 
callow youth who was putting up a bluff at 
steering the "wash tub," as Ealph called it. 

The older people in the Frolic were not aware 
of what was happening up ahead. The race 



THE RACE 255 

was ended, they had been under a pretty high 
stress of excitement for some time, and were 
glad to settle down comfortably and leave tha 
homeward trip to Peggy and the coxswain who 
was close at hand. Never a thought of disaster 
entered their minds. 
Then it came like a flash of lightning: 
There was a child's pathetic cry of terror; a 
woman's wild, hysterical shriek and shouts of 
horror from the near-by craft. 

In an instant Durand was out of his white 
service jacket, his shoes were kicked off and 
before a wholesome pulse could beat ten he was 
overside, shouting to Peggy as he took the 
plunge : 

"Follow close!" 

"I'm after you," was the ringing answer. 
"Heaven save us!" cried Captain Stewart, 
springing to his feet, while the others started 
from their chairs. 

"Trust him. He is all right, Daddy. I've 
seen him do this sort of thing before," called 
Peggy, keeping her head and handling her 
launch in a manner to bring cheers from the 
other boats also rushing to the rescue. 

It was only the work of a moment for Durand 
swimming as he could swim, and the next second 



256 PEGGY STEWAET 

he had grasped the child and was making for 
the Frolic, clear-headed enough to doubt the 
chance of aid being rendered by the people oa 
the launch from which the child had fallen, but 
absolutely sure of Peggy's cooperation, for he 
had tested it under similar conditions once be- 
fore when a couple of inexperienced plebes had 
been capsized from a canoe on the Severn, and 
Peggy, who had been out in her sailboat at the 
time, had sped to their rescue. A boat-hook 
was promptly held out to the swimmer and he 
and his burden were both safe on board the 
Frolic a moment later, neither much the worse 
for their dip, though the child was screaming 
with terror, answering screams from one of the 
women in the other launch indicating that she 
had some claim to the unfortunate one. 

"She's all right. Not a hair harmed. Keep 
cool and we'll come alongside," ordered Cap- 
tain Stewart. "Not the least harm done in the 
world." 

But the woman continued to shriek and rave 
until Mrs. Harold said : 

"I would like to shake her soundly. If she 
had been paying any attention to the child the 
accident never could have happened." 

The dripping baby was transferred to her 



THE BACE 257 

mother, Captain Harold had clapped Durand 
on the back and cried: "Boy, you're a trump of 
the first water," and the rest of the party were 
telling Peggy that she was "a brick" and "a 
first-class sport," and "a darling," according 
to the vocabulary or sex of the individual, when 
the second feminine occupant of the launch 
which had been the cause of all the excitement, 
electrified every one on the Frolic by exclaim- 
ing: 

"Why, Neil! Neil Stewart! Is it possible 
after all these years? Don't you know mef 
Don't you know Katherine? Peyton's wife?" 

For a moment Neil Stewart looked non- 
plussed. His only brother had married years 
before. Neil had attended the wedding, meet- 
ing the bride then, and only twice afterward, 
for his brother had died two years after his 
marriage and Neil had never since laid eyes 
upon Peyton's wife. If the truth must be told 
he had not been eager to, for she was not the 
type of woman who attracted him in the least. 
Yet here she was before him. By this time the 
launches had been run up to one of the docks 
upon the West shore of the Thames. Naturally, 
both consolation for the emotional mother of 
the child as well as introductions were now in 

17 



258 PEGGY STEWART 

order, Mrs. Harold and Captain Stewart offer- 
ing their services. These, however, were de- 
clined, but Mrs. Peyton Stewart embraced the 
opportunity to rhapsodize over "that darling 
child who had handled the launch with such 
marvelous skill and been instrumental in sav- 
ing sweet little Clare's life." Durand, drying 
off in the launch, seemed to be quite out of her 
consideration in the scheme of things, for which 
Durand was duly thankful, for he had taken one 
of his swift, inexplicable aversions to her. But 
Madam continued to gush over poor Peggy 
until that modest little girl was well-nigh beside 
herself. 

"And to think you are right here and I have 
not been aware of it. Oh, I must know that 
darling child of whose existence I have actually 
been ignorant. I shall never, never cease to 
reproach myself." 

Neil Stewart did not inquire upon what score, 
but as soon as it could be done with any sem- 
blance of grace, bade his undesirable relative 
farewell, promising to "give himself the pleas- 
ure of calling the following day." 

"And be sure 7 shall not lose sight of that 
darling girl again," Mrs. Peyton Stewart as- 
sured him. 



THE EACE 259 

"I'm betting my hat she won't either," was 
Durand's comment to Wheedles, "and I'd also 
bet there's trouble in store for Peggy Stewart 
if that femme once gets her clutches on her. 
Ugh! She's a piece of work. 

"A rotten, bad piece, I'd call it," answered 
Wheedles under his breath. 

When Mr. and Mrr. Harold, Captain Stewart 
and Peggy returned to the launch one might 
have thought that they, instead of Durand, had 
been plunged overboard. They seemed dazed, 
and the run across to the Griswold dock was 
less joyous than the earlier portion of the 
had been. 



CHAPTER XVH 
SHADOWS CAST BEFORE 

CAPTAIN Boynton as host entertained the 
launch party at dinner at the Griswold that 
evening, and later all attended the dance given 
in honor of the winning crew. 

Many of the Yale and Harvard men were old 
friends of the midshipmen, having been to 
Annapolis a number of times either to witness 
or participate in some form of athletics. So 
old friendships were renewed, and new ones 
made, though, in some way Peggy and Polly felt 
less at home with the college men than with 
"our boys," as they both called all from Annap- 
olis, notwithstanding the fact that "our boys" 
were in some instances the seniors of the col- 
lege men. But the Academy life is peculiar in 
that respect, and tends to extremes. Where 
the collegian from the very beginning of his 
career is permitted to go and come almost at 
will, and as a result of that freedom of action 
attains a liberty which, alack, has been known 

280 



261 

to degenerate into license, the midshipman must 
conform to the strictest discipline, his outgo- 
ings limited, with the exception of one month 
out of the twelve, to the environs of a little, un- 
developed town, and with every single hour of 
the twenty-four accounted for. Yet, on the 
other hand he must at once shoulder respon- 
sibilities which would make the average col- 
legian think twice before he bound himself to 
assume them. 

And the result is an exceptional development: 
they are boys at heart, but men in their ability 
to face an issue. Eeady to frolic, have "a 
rough house," and set things humming at the 
slightest provocation, but equal to meet a crisis 
when one must be met and with very rare ex- 
ceptions gentlemen in word and deed. 

Peggy's and Polly's chums during the winter 
just past had been chosen from the best in the 
Academy, and it was no wonder they drew very 
sharp, very critical comparisons when brought 
in touch with other lads. In Peggy's case i* 
was all a novelty, though Polly had known boyt 
all her life. 

Nevertheless, the ball given at the Griswold 
would have been joy unalloyed but for one fly 
in the pot of ointment : A most insistent, buzzing 



262 PEGGY STEWART 

fly, too, in the form of Mrs. Peyton Stewart. 

Perhaps while all the world is a-tiptoe in the 
packed ballroom, or crowding the broad piazzas 
of the hotel, this will be an opportune moment 
in which to drop a word regarding Mrs. Peyton 
Stewart. 

As lads, Neil Stewart and his brother had 
been devotedly attached to each other. Peyton 
was five years Neil's junior, and Neil fairly 
adored the bright little lad. Naturally, Neil 
had entered the Naval Academy while Peyton 
was still a small boy at boarding-school. Then 
Peyton went to college and at the ripe age of 
twenty- two, married. 

Had the marriage been a wise one, or one 
likely to help make a man of the heedless, har- 
um-scarum Peyton, his family, and his brother, 
would probably have accepted the situation 
with as good a grace as possible. But it was 
not wise: it was the very essence of folly, for 
the girl was nearer Neil's age than Peyton's, 
and came of a family which could never have 
had anything in common with Peyton Stewart's. 
She was also entirely frivolous, if not actually 
designing. Neil was the only member of his 
family who attended the wedding, which took 
place in a small New Jersey town, and, as has 



SHADOWS CAST BEFOEE 263 

been stated, had seen his undesirable sister-in- 
law only twice after her wedding-day. Upon 
one occasion by accident, and upon the last at 
his brother's death, only two years after the 
marriage, and had then and there resolved 
never to see her again if he could possibly help 
it, for never had one person rubbed another 
the wrong way as had Mrs. Peyton rubbed her 
brother-in-law. 

Naturally, Peyton had received his share of 
his inheritance upon the death of his parents, 
but Neil had inherited Severndale, so while 
Madam Peyton Stewart was not by any means 
lacking in worldly goods, she had nothing like 
the income her brother-in-law enjoyed. But 
she was by no means short-sighted, and like a 
flash several thoughts had entered her head 
when chance brought her in touch with him. 
She had never been of the type which lets a 
good opportunity slip for lack of prompt action, 
so in spite of her hostess' rather excited frame 
of mind as the result of the afternoon's acci- 
dent, she persuaded her to attend the ball at the 
Griswold that evening. 

She "must have something to divert her 
thoughts from the horror of that precious 
child's disaster and miraculous rescue from 



264 PEGGY STEWART 

death," she urged, that same child, as a matter 
of fact, being as gay and chipper as though a 
header from the stern of a crowded launch into 
a more crowded river was a mere daily incident 
in her life. 

So there sat Madam, gorgeous in white satin 
and silver, plying her fan and her tongue with 
equal energy. 

Presently Peggy danced by with Durand, not 
a few eyes following the beautiful young girl 
and handsome boy, and to an individual those 
who saw them decided that they were brother 
and sister. This was Mrs. Stewart 's oppor- 
tunity and she made the most of it : Turning to 
a lady beside her she gurgled: 

"Oh, that darling child. She is my only 
niece though I have never met her until this 
very afternoon. Isn't she a beauty? Think 
what a sensation she will be sure to create a 
year or two hence when she comes out. Don'fi 
you envy me? for, of course, there is no one 
else to introduce her to society. Her mother 
died years ago." 

"And the young man with her?" questioned 
the lady, wondering why the darling niece had 
not figured more prominently in the aunt's life 
hitherto. "Is he her brother t" 



SHADOWS CAST BEFORE 265 

"No. He is the hero of the day. The young 
naval cadet [save the mark!] who so nobly 
sprang overboard after sweet little Clare and 
saved her under such harrowing circumstances. 
Isn't he simply stunning? Have you ever seen 
a more magnificent figure! I think he is the 
handsomest thing I've ever laid my eyes upon. 
And so devoted to dear Peggy. And they say 
he has a fortune in his own right. But, that is 
a minor consideration; the dear child is an 
heiress herself. Magnificent old home in Mary- 
land and, and, oh, all that, don't you know." 

Madam's information concerning her niece's 
affairs seemed to have grown amazingly since 
that chance encounter during the afternoon. 

At that moment the dance came to an end and 
by evil chance Peggy and Durand were not ten 
feet from Mrs. Stewart. She beckoned to them 
and, of course, there was nothing to do but 
respond. They at once walked over to her. 

"Oh, Mrs. Latimer, let me present my dear 
niece Miss Stewart to you, and Peggy darling, 
I must know this young hero. You dear, dear 
boy, weren't you simply petrified when you saw- 
that darling child plunge overboard T You are 
a wonder. A perfect wonder of heroism. Of 
course the girls are just raving over you. How 



266 PEGGY STEWAET 

could they help itf Uniforms, brass buttons, 
the gallant rescuer and now turn your head 
the other way because you are not supposed to 
hear this all the gifts and graces of the gods. 
Ah, Peggy, I suspect you have rare discrim- 
ination even at your age, and well Mr. Leroux 
you have not made any mistake, I can assure 
you." 

Perhaps two individuals who have suddenly 
stepped into a hornet 's nest may have some 
conception of Peggy's and Durand's sensa- 
tions. Peggy looked absolutely, hopelessly 
blank at this volley. Durand's face was first a 
thunder-cloud and then became crimson, but 
not on his own account : Durand was no fool to 
the ways of foolish women; his mortification 
was for Peggy's sake; he loathed the very 
thought of having her brought in touch with 
such shallowness, exposed to such vulgarity, 
and the charm of their rarely frank inter- 
course invaded by suggestions of silly senti- 
mentality. Thus far there had never been a 
hint, nor the faintest suggestion of it; only the 
most loyal good fellowship; and his own atti- 
tude toward Peggy Stewart was one of the 
highest esteem for a fine, well-bred girl and the 
tenderest sense of protection for her lonely, 



SHADOWS CAST BEFOEE 267 

almost orphaned position. He looked at Mrs. 
Peyton Stewart with eyes which fairly blazed 
contempt and she had the grace to color under 
his gaze, boy of barely nineteen that he was. 

"And yon are going to let me know you bet- 
ter, aren't you, dear?" persisted Mrs. Stewart. 
"I am coming to see you. Do ask father to 
come and talk with me. There are a thousand 
questions I must ask him, and innumerable in- 
cidents of old times to discuss." 

1 ' Captain Stewart is just across the room. I 
will tell him you are anxious to see him, Mrs. 
Stewart, and then I must take you to Mrs. 
Harold, Peggy, or the other fellows will never 
find you in this jam," and away fled Durand, 
quick to find a loophole of escape. Whether 
Neil Stewart appreciated his zeal in serving the 
family cause is open to speculations, but it 
served the turn for the moment. Neil Stewart 
was obliged to cross the room and talk to his 
sister-in-law, said sister-in-law taking the initia- 
tive to rise at his approach, place her hand 
upon his arm, and say : 

"Dear Neil, what a delight after all these 
years. But pray take me outside. It is insuf- 
ferably oppressive in here and I have so much 
I wish to say to you." 



268 PEGGY STEWAET 

Just what "dear Neil's" innermost thoughts 
were need not be conjectured. He escorted the 
lady from the big ballroom, and Durand whisked 
Peggy away to Mrs. Harold, though he said 
nothing to the girl he was raging too fiercely 
inwardly, and felt sure if he said anything he 
would say too much. Nor was Peggy her usual 
self. She seemed obsessed by a forewarning 
of evil days ahead. Durand handed her over 
to the partner who was waiting for her, and saw 
her glide away with him, then slipping into a 
vacant chair behind Mrs. Harold, who for the 
moment happened to be alone, he said: 

"Little Mother, have you ever been so rip- 
snorting mad that you have wanted to smash 
somebody and cut loose for fair, and felt as if 
you'd burst if you couldn't?" 

The words were spoken in a half-laughing 
tone, but Mrs. Harold turned to look straight 
into the dark eyes so near her own. 

"What has happened, son!" she asked in the 
quiet voice which always soothed his perturbed 
spirit. He repeated the conversation just 
heard, punctuating it with a few terse comments 
which revealed volumes to Mrs. Harold. Her 
face was troubled as she said : 

"I don't like it I don't like it even a little 



SHADOWS CAST BEFORE 269 

bit. I'm afraid trouble is ahead for that little 
girl. Oh, if her father could only be with her 
all the time. Outsiders can do so little because 
their authority is so limited and those who have 
the authority are either too guileless or de- 
barred by their stations. Dr. Llewellyn, Har- 
rison and Mammy are the only ones who have 
the least right to say one word, and " 

Mrs. Harold ceased and shrugged her shoul- 
ders in a manner which might have been copied 
from Durand himself. 

"Yes, I know who you mean. And Peggy is 
one out of a thousand. She and Polly too. 
Great Scott, there isn't an ounce of nonsense 
in their heads, and if that old fool I beg your 
pardon," cried Durand, fussed at his break, but 
Mrs. Harold nodded and said : 

' * There are times when it is excusable to call 
a spade a spade." 

""Well," continued Durand, "if that femme 
starts in to talk such rot to Peggy it's going to 
spoil everything. Why, you never heard such 
confounded foolishness in all your life." 

"Come and walk on the terrace with me, 
laddie, and cool off both mentally and physi- 
cally. I know just how you feel and I wish I 
could see the way to ward off the inevitable 



270 PEGGY STEWART 

at least that which intuition hints to be in- 
evitable 

"And that is?*' asked Durand anxiously. 

"Child, you have been like a son to me for 
two years. Peggy has grown almost as dear 
to me as Polly. I long to see that rare little girl 
blossom into a fine woman and she will if wisely 
guided, but with such a person as her aunt " 

"You don't for a moment think she will go 
and camp down at Severndale?" demanded 
Durand, stopping stock-still in consternation 
at the picture the words conjured up. 

"I don't know a thing! Not one single thing, 
but I am gifted with an intuition which is posi- 
tively painful at times," and Mrs. Harold re- 
sumed her walk with a petulant little stamp. 

Nor was her intuition at fault in the present} 
instance. In some respects Neil Stewart was 
as guileless and unsuspicious as a child, butt 
Madam Stewart was far from guileless. Shei 
was clever and designing to a degree, and before 
that conversation upon the Griswold piazza 
ended she had so cleverly maneuvered that she 
had been invited to spend the month of Sep- 
tember at Severndale, and that was all she 
wanted: once her entering wedge was placed 
she was sure of her plans. 



CHAPTEE XVIII 
BACK AT SEVERNDALE 

THE first two days of Peggy's return to 
Severndale were almost overwhelming for the 
girl. True, Dr. Llewellyn met and welcomed 
her, and strove in his gentle, kindly manner to 
make the lonely home-coming a little less lonely. 
It was all so different from what she had an- 
ticipated. That he was there to welcome her 
at all was a mere chance. He had planned a 
trip north and completed all his arrangements, 
when an old, and lifelong friend fell desper- 
ately ill. Deferring his trip for the friend's 
sake, Neil Stewart's letter caught him before 
his departure, and after reading that his own 
pleasures and wishes were set aside. Duty, 
which had ever been his watchword, held him at 
Severndale. 

When questioned by him circumspectly it 
is true Peggy's answers conveyed no idea of 
pending trouble, nor did they alter his charit- 
able view of the world or his fellow beings. 

19 271 



272 PEGGY STEWAET 

"Why, Filiola, I think it must be the very 
happiest solution of the situation here: I am 
getting too old and prosy to make life inter- 
esting for yon ; your father will not be retired 
for several years yet, so there is little hope of 
your claiming his companionship ; Mrs. Harold 
is a most devoted friend, but friendships in the 
service must so often be broken by the exigen- 
cies of the duties ; she may be compelled to leave 
Annapolis at almost any time, and if she is, 
your friend Polly will be obliged to leave also. 
Why, little one, it seems to me quite providen- 
tial that you should have met your aunt in New 
London and that she will visit you here," and 
good Dr. Llewellyn stroked with gentle touch 
the pretty brown hair resting against his 
shoulder, and looked smilingly down upon the 
troubled young face. 

"Yes, Compadre, I know you think it will be 
quite for the best and I'm sure it would if 
if" 

Peggy paused. She hated to say anything 
uncomplimentary of the person whom the law 
said she must regard as her aunt. 

1 1 Are yon prejudiced, my dear I ' ' 

There was mild reproof in Dr. Llewellyn *s 
tone. 



BACK AT SEVERNDALE 273 

"I ain afraid I am. You see I have been 
with the 'Little Mother,' and I do love her so, 
and Polly's mother, too, and oh, Compadre, she 
is lovely. Perfectly lovely. If you could only 
see Polly with her. There is something some- 
thing in their attitude toward each other which 
makes me understand just what Mamma and I 
might have been to each other had she lived. I 
never guessed what it meant until last winter, 
or felt it as I did up there in New London. 
Daddy Neil is dear and precious but Mamma 
and I would have been just what Polly and her 
mother are to each other; I know it." 

"Will it not be possible for you and your 
aunt to grow very deeply attached to one an- 
other? She, I understand, is quite alone in 
the world, and you should mean a great deal to 
each other." 

Peggy's slight form shuddered ever so little 
in his circling arm. That little shudder con- 
veyed more to Dr. Llewellyn than a volume of 
words could have done. He knew the sensitive, 
high-strung girl too well not to comprehend that 
there must be something in Mrs. Peyton Stew- 
art's personality which grated harshly upon 
her, and concluded that it would be wiser not 
to pursue the subject. 



274 PEGGY STEWAET 

"Go for a spin upon Shashai's silky back, 
and let Tzaritza's long leaps carry you into a 
world of gladness. Nelly has been asking for 
you and the five-mile ride to her home will put 
things straighter." 

"I'll go," answered Peggy, and left him to 
get into her linen riding skirt, for it was still 
very warm in Maryland. 

From the moment of her return Tzaritza had 
never left Peggy's side, and her horses, espe- 
cially Shashai, Roy and Star had greeted her 
with every demonstration of affection. She 
now made her way to the paddock intending to 
take out her favorite, but when she called him 
the other two came bounding toward her, noz- 
zling, whinnying, begging for her caresses. 

"What shall I do with all three of you?'' 
cried Peggy. "I can't ride three at once." 

"You'll be having one grand time to git shet 
o' the other two whichever one you do take; 
they've been consoling themselves for your 
absence by stickin' together as thick as thieves: 
Where one goes, there goes 'tothers," laughed 
Shelby, who had gone down to the paddock with 
her. 

"Then let them come along if they want to," 
and Peggy joined in the laugh. 



BACK AT SEVERNDALE 275 

" You couldn't lose 'em if you tried ; first they 
love you, and then they're so stuck on each 
other you'd think it was one body with a dozen 
legs." 

Without another word Peggy sprang to 
Shashai's back. Then with the clear whistle 
her pets knew so well, was off down the road. 
That was a mad, wild gallop but when she came 
to Nelly 's home her cheeks were glowing and 
her eyes shining as of old. 

"Oh, have you seen Pepper and Salt!" was 
almost the first question Nelly asked. 

"Well, I guess I have, and aren't they won- 
ders? Oh, I'm so glad I saw them that day. 
Do you know they are to be entered in the 
horse-show and the steeple-chase this fall? 
Well, they are. Shelby has made them such 
beauties. But now tell me all about yourself. 
I'm going to write to Polly tonight and she 
will never forgive me if I don't tell her just 
everything. You are looking perfectly fine. 
And how is the knee?" 

"Just as well as its mate. I wouldn't know 
I had ever been lame. Your doctor is a wonder, 
Miss Peggy, and he was so kind. He said you 
told him you had adopted me and he was bound 
to take extra good care of me because I was 



276 PEGGY STEWABT 

your girl now. I didn't know yon had told him 
to attend me until after you had gone away and 
I can't thank you enough, but father is so wor- 
ried because he thinks he will never be able to 
pay such a bill as Doctor Kendall's ought to be 
for curing me. But I tell him it will come out 
all right, just as it always has before, for things 
are looking up right smart on the farm now. 
Tom and Jerry certainly do earn their keep, as 
Mr. Shelby said they would, and they are so 
splendid and big and round and roly-poly, and 
strong enough to pull up a tree, father says. 
Don't you want to come and see them?" 

"Indeed I do," and following the beaming, 
healthy girl whose once pale cheeks were now 
rounded and rosy, Peggy walked to the stump 
lot just beyond the little cottage where she was 
heartily greeted by Jim Bolivar, who said: 

"Well, if it ain't a sight fit ter chirker up a 
dead man ter see ye back again, Miss Peggy. 
Will you shake hands with me, miss? It's a 
kind o' dirty and hard hand but it wants ter 
hold your little one jist a minute ter try ter 
show ye how much the man it belongs ter 
thinks of ye." 

Peggy laid her own pretty little hand in Jim 
Bolivar's, saying: 



BACK AT SEVEENDALE 277 

"I wish I could make you understand how 
glad I am to shake hands with you, and it al- 
ways makes me so happy to have people like me. 
It hurts if they don't, you know." 

"Well, you ain't likely ter be hurt none ter 
speak of; no, you ain't, little girl, an' that's a 
fact. God bless ye ! And look at Nelly. Ain't 
she a clipper? My, things is jist a hummin' on 
the little old farm now, an' 'fore ye know it 
we'll be buildin' a piazzy. Now come 'long an* 
see Tom and Jerry." 

And so from one to another went the little 
chatelaine of Severndale, welcomed at every 
turn, cheery, helpful, sunny, beloved yet, oh, so 
lonely in her young girlhood. 

And thus passed the first days of Peggy's 
return to Severndale. Then the eventful one 
of Mrs. Stewart's arrival dawned. It was a 
gloriously sunny one ; cool from a shower dur- 
ing the previous night. Mrs. Stewart would 
arrive at five in the afternoon. All morning 
Peggy had been busy looking to the prepara- 
tions for her aunt's reception. Harrison had 
followed out her young mistress* orders to the 
letter, for somehow of late, Harrison had grown 
to defer more and more to "Miss Peggy," 
though secretly, she was not in the least favor- 



278 PEGGY STEWAET 

ably inclined toward the prospective addition 
to the household: Mammy's report had not 
tended to pre-dispose her in the lady's favor. 

Nevertheless, she was a guest, and a guest at 
Severndale stood for more than a mere word 
of five letters. 

Peggy ordered the surrey to meet the five 
p. M. car but chose to ride Shashai, and when 
Jess set forth with the perfectly appointed car- 
riage and span, Peggy, in her pretty khaki 
habit fox-trotted beside Comet and Meteor, 
Tzaritza, as usual, bounding on ahead. 

They had gone possibly half the distance 
when a mad clatter of hoof -beats caused her to 
exclaim : 

"Oh, Jess, they have leaped the paddock 
fence!" 

"Dey sho' has, honey-chile. Dey sho' has," 
chuckled Jess. "Dat lady what's a-comin* 
gwine get a 'ception at 'tention what mak' her 
open her eyes." 

"Oh, but I did not want her to have such a 
welcome. She will think we are all crazy down 
here, ' ' protested Peggy. 

"Well, if she think five thoroughbreds tu'ned 
out fer ter welcome her stan fer crazy folks she 
gwine start out wid a mistake. Dem hawses 



BACK AT SEVERNDALE 279 

gwine mind yo' an' mak' a showin' she ain' 
gwine see eve'y day of her life lemme tell yo'." 

But there was no time to discuss the point 
further, for Silver Star and Eoy came bounding 
up on a dead run, manes and tails waving, and 
with the maddest demonstrations of joy at hav- 
ing won out in their determination not to be left 
behind. They rushed to Peggy's side, whinny- 
ing their "Hello ! How are you?" to Shashai, 
who answered with quite as much abandon. 
And then came the transformation: At a word 
from Peggy they fell into stride beside her and 
finished the journey to the little depot in as 
orderly a manner as perfectly trained dogs. 
When they reached it Peggy stationed them in 
line, and slipping from Shashai 's back ordered 
Tzaritza to " guard." Then she stepped upon 
the platform to meet the incoming car, just as 
little less than a year before she had stepped 
upon it to welcome the ones whom during that 
year she had learned to love so dearly, and who 
had so completely altered her outlook upon life, 
and who were destined to change and yes 
save her future, just as surely as the one now 
momentarily drawing nearer and nearer was 
destined to bring a crisis into it. 

The car came buzzing up to the station. 



280 PEGGY STEWAET 

There was a flutter of drapery, as a lady with 
a white French poodle, snapping and snarling 
at the world at large, and the brakeman in par- 
ticular, into whose arms it was thrust, descended 
from the steps. 

" Handle Toinette carefully. Dear me, you 
are crushing her, the poor darling. Here, 
porter, take this suitcase," were the commands 
issued. 

"I ain't no po'tah," retorted the negro who 
had been singled out by Madam. Then he 
turned and walked off. 

"Insolent creature," was the sharp retort, 
which might have been followed by other com- 
ments had not Peggy at that moment advanced 
to meet her aunt. When the negro saw that 
the new arrival was a friend of the little lady 
of Severndale his whole attitude changed in a 
flash. Doffing his cap he ran toward her saying : 

"I looks after it fo' yo y , Miss Peggy." The 
accent upon the pronoun was significant. 

"Thank you, Sam," was the quick, smiling 
answer. Then : 

"How do you do, Aunt Katharine? Wel- 
come to Severndale," and her hand was ex- 
tended to welcome her relative, for Peggy's 
instincts were rarely at fault. 



BACK AT SEVERNDALE 281 

But her aunt was too occupied in receiving 
Toinette into her protecting embrace to see her 
niece's hand, and Peggy did not force the greet- 
ing. "Will you come to the carriage?" she 
asked, "I hope you are not very tired from the 
journey. ' ' 

"On the contrary, I am positively exhausted. 
I don't see how you can endure those horrid, 
smelly little cars. We would not consent to 
ride a mile in them at home. Is this your car- 
riage? Hold my dog, coachman, while I am 
getting in," and Toinette was thrust into Jess' 
hand which she promptly bit, and very nearly 
had her small ribs crushed for her indiscretion, 
her yelp producing a cry from her doting 
mistress. 

"Be careful, you stupid man. You can't 
handle that delicate little thing as though she 
were one of your great horses. Now put the 
suitcase by the driver and leave room here be- 
side me for my niece," were the further com- 
mands issued to "Sam." 

Sam did as ordered, but when a dime was 
proffered answered: 

"Keep yo' cash, lady. I done dat job fer ma 
little quality lady hyer, an* she pays wid some- 
thin' bettah." 



282 PEGGY STEWART 

Mrs. Stewart was evidently not in her ami- 
able guise, but turning to Peggy she strove to 
force a smile and say: 

" Ignorant creatures, aren't they, dear? But 
come. I've a thousand questions to ask." 

"Thank you, Aunt Katharine, but I rode 
over on my saddle horse, and shall have to ask 
you to excuse me." 

Not until that moment did Mrs. Stewart 
notice the three horses standing like statues 
just beyond the carriage with the splendid dog 
lying upon the ground in front of them. 

Peggy crossed the intervening space and 
with the one word "Up," to Tzaritza, set her 
escort in motion. They reached forward long, 
slim necks to greet her, Tzaritza bounding up 
to rest her forepaws upon her shoulders and 
nestle her silky head against Peggy's face, sure 
of the solicited caress. Then Peggy bounded 
to Shashai's back, and the little group, wheel- 
ing like a flash, led the way from the depot. 

"Good heavens and earth! It is quite time 
someone came down here to look after that 
child. I had no idea she was leading the life 
of a wild western cowboy," was the exclamation 
from the rear seat of the surrey, plainly over- 
heard by Jess, and, later duly reported. 



BACK AT SEVEENDALE 283 

"Huh, Urn," he muttered. 

The ride to Severndale held no charm for 
Madam Stewart. She was too intent upon 
"that child's mad, hoydenish riding. (rood 
heavens, if such were ever seen in New York," 
New York with its automaton figures jigging 
up and down in the English fashion through 
Central Park being her criterion for the world 
in general. 

Presently beautiful Severndale was reached. 
Dr. Llewellyn was waiting upon the terrace to 
greet his ward's aunt, which he did in his 
stately, courtly manner, but before ten words 
were spoken he comprehended all Neil Stewart 
meant in his letter by the words : 

"Stand by Peggy. I've landed her up against 
it," and as the young girl led her aunt into the 
house, with Mammy all immaculate dignity fol- 
lowing in their wake, he mentally commented: 
"I fear he has made a grave mistake; a very 
grave one, but Providence ordereth all things 
and we see darkly It may be one of the 
'wondrous ways.' We must not form our con- 
clusions too hastily. No, not too hastily." 

And just here we must leave Peggy Stewart 
upon the threshold of a new world the entrance 
to which is certainly not enticing. What the 



284 PEGGY STEWAET 

experiences of that month were, and the revela- 
tions which came into Peggy's life during it; 
how the perplexing problem was solved and who 
helped to solve it, must be told in the story of 
Peggy Stewart at School. But just now we 
must leave her doing her best to make "Aunt 
Katharine" comfortable; to smooth out some 
of the kinks already making a snarl of the 
usually evenly ordered household, for Mammy 
had not changed her opinion one particle, and 
when Harrison went back to her own undis- 
puted realm of the big house she was overheard 
to remark: 

"Well, Neil Stewart is a man, so of course, 
he's bound to do some fool things, but unless I 
miss my guess, he's played his trump card this 
time." 



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